Two Colombian senators want to hike royalties paid by foreign oil and mining firms with a bill that would put Colombia alongside countries like Venezuela and Australia in seeking a greater state share in resource wealth.
The legislation before Congress was proposed without the backing of President Juan Manual Santos, who has a strong majority among lawmakers. But if passed the bill would be a sharp turn away from Colombia’s heavily pro-investment stance.
“What we are saying is that the multinationals are paying very little for royalties. What we want to do is bring those royalties up to international standards,” Senator Jaime Duran, a Liberal Party lawmaker, told Reuters.
Without Santos’ backing the bill would have little chance of passing the four debates to become law. Santos allies in the U Party, Conservative Party, Cambio Radical and the Liberal parties have a majority in both parliamentary chambers.
The Andean country is enjoying a boom in petroleum and mining investment as violence from its long rebel war ebbs and oil explorers and miners flock to areas once off limits because of the threat of rebel kidnapping, attacks and bombings.
The Santos government has already proposed reforms to better distribute royalties and keep part of new commodity wealth in an offshore savings fund as part of a broad program to fight off Colombia’s stubbornly high fiscal deficit.