Contrary to what was outlined in a new law for more even redistribution of oil royalties passed by the Colombian government last year, some towns received as little as US $0.20 compensation.
Carlos Alberta Zuluaga of the House of Representatives said that in Colombia’s northwestern department of Antioquia some municipalities received as little as US $0.50 in direct royalties while others will receive millions.
Executive Director of the Colombian Federation of Municipalities Gilberto Toro commented “High expecations were created but not met [...] These sums of money are laughable. This has now become a new way of stigmatizing mayors as if they are the ones who keep the resources and don’t invest them in the municipality.”
A case in point is La Ceja in Antioquia which received the lowest payments of any municipality, US $0.16. Mayor Joao Alberto Martinez had believed that the new law would provide great opportunities to his municipality which have not become reality.
The Department of National Planning [NPD] has defended the new oil royalties system, saying that mayors “will get money with which to govern.” NPD Deputy Director General Juan Mauricio Ramirez explained that funds of US $30 million are available for local development projects most of which is targeted at municipalities with over 35% poverty. But Ramirez admits that some municipalities will receive the minimum payment since they are very small producers.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is expected to receive an earful at the National Congress of Mayors Wednesday. A spokesman for the President said that Santos was not made sufficiently aware of the problem but will seek a solution.