Santos addressed representatives from 80 Spanish corporations yesterday at the Colombia-Spain Forum on Infrastructure and Housing.
The president encouraged Colombian and Spanish firms to form connections so that they might partner and compete for an impressive array of Colombia public building projects scheduled to begin in the near future. The governemnt is expected to spend $17.6 billion on infrastructure in 2014 and $56 billion over the next 10 years.
“I understand that 170 billateral connections have already been made,” Santos said, at the close of the forum. “Of these 170, if just 20% result in partnerships and work, that would be wonderful.”
Both Santos and Transportation Minister Germain Cardona highlighted the opportunities for foreign construction firms in improving what they regarded as Colombia’s dilapidated infrastructure. “We want tot get a message not only to Spain, but to the world that good partnerships with Colombian firms have a lot to do because the backlog on infrastructure is evident,” said Cardona. Santos noted that Colombia’s infrastructure was “the most backward,” and “needs more stimulus, more investment.”
Jose Blanco, the Spanish minister of development, was also in attendence and noted the dynamism of Colombia’s economy and society and praised the “relevance of Colombia internationally.” Blanco added that many Spanish companies were interested in new construction projects in Colombia. “There are many Spanish companies that want to cooperate with Colombia to promote this ambitious government infrastructure plan.”
Minister Cardona invited Spanish firms to submit bids for the initial stage of the infrastructure plan that will be worth $681 million.