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Medellin-based multinational personal-hygiene products manufacturer Grupo Familia announced March 23 that its full-year 2017 consolidated net income more than doubled year-on-year, to COP$231 billion (US$81 million).

Operating income also rose 75% year-on-year, to COP$343 billion (US$120 million), according to the company.

Gross income rose slightly (just under 2%) year-on-year, to COP$2.3 trillion (US$809 million) in the eight countries where Familia now operates.

Familia also boasted that it launched 15 new products last year, under its various brand names, including “Nosotras,” “Pomys,” “Petys,” “Pequeñín,” and “Familia,” according to the company.

Grupo Familia also noted that its 2017 highlights included purchase of 100% of the stock of Dominican Republic-based product distributor Continental de Negocios, for US$16.5 million.

During 2017, Familia also launched a partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to review the company’s environmental sustainability plans.

Finally, subsequent to the close of fiscal year 2017, Grupo Familia also noted that it has now completed the buy-out of 100% of the stock of Productos Sancela del Peru, for US$37.7 million. That move bolsters Familia's market strength in Peru and Bolivia, the company added.


Medellin’s “Ruta N” technology-company hosting center announced March 22 that Madrid-based Konecta now has 100 engineers working here -- and exporting services to nine countries including Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Morroco, Argentina, Chile, México, Perú and Brazil.

Konecta offers business process outsourcing (BPO, software development and a contact center for “diverse sectors,” according to Ruta N.

The company’s goals for 2018 include updating its technology capacity and providing “effective mechanisms to connect clients with solutions for their needs,” according to Ruta N.

“Our company’s strategy defined the need to centralize software development in one country,” added Konecta Colombia president José Roberto Sierra.

“We analyzed different alternatives before finally deciding upon Medellin, given the high availability in this city of professionals with good qualifications, as well as the decided commitment of local government in favor of innovation and development of projects in the technology sector,” he added.

With coordinated help from Colombian business-development agency Procolombia, Ruta N and Medellin’s ACI (Agencia de Coopercion e Inversion de Medellin y el Area Metropolitana), Konecta first installed its multi-disciplinary innovation center in October 2017, the agency noted.

Separately, Konecta announced February 1 that its full-year 2017 sales hit €770 million (COP$2.7 trillion) thanks to “sustained organic growth” along with integration of recently acquired Allus and B-Connect in Latin America.

“Over the past year, [Konecta] launched a digital transformation and efficiency unit, as well as Konecta Software Factory, its center for technological innovation in Medellin,” the company added.

“Looking ahead, Konecta will keep on searching for opportunities that favor its growth in the American, Brazilian, and European markets, to allow Konecta to meet its goal of ranking among the top world’s five companies in the sector,” according to the company.


Medellin-based textile manufacturer Fabricato announced March 21 its that full-year 2017 net loss grew to COP$6.4 billion (US$2.2 million), down from a COP$845 million (US$295,000) net loss in 2016.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell to a negative COP$3.2 billion (US$1.1 million) , down from a positive COP$26.9 billion (US$9.4 million) in 2016.

Sales also declined 12.5% year-on-year, to COP$337 billion (US$117 million), down from COP$385 billion (US$134 million) in 2016.

Meanwhile, fellow Medellin-based textile giant Coltejer reported a net loss of COP$24 billion (US$8.4 million) in 2017, worse than the net loss of COP$7.7 billion (US$2.7 million) in 2016. Coltejer's sales likewise declined 30% year-on-year, to COP$169 billion (US$59 million), down from COP$241 billion (US$84 million) in 2016.

Operating income also fell 23% year-on-year, to COP$212 billion (US$74 million), down from COP$277 billion (US$96 million) in 2016, according to Coltejer.

“The net loss of the year is basically due to financial expenses, plus a drop in the domestic market which led to a reduction in production -- due to the importation of Asian products at a low price,” Coltejer added.

On a similar note, Fabricato explained that "the general business environment in Colombia in 2017 was unfavorable, as reflected in the lower level of growth in the country in recent years.

“The year [2017] began with a significant reduction in consumer confidence, a variable that has not fully recovered and that influenced sales and production indices throughout 2017,” as textile production nationwide fell 7.6% and clothing manufacture declined 8.4% year-on-year, according to Fabricato.

“Also during 2017, the textile-clothing chain faced acute competition based on unfair practices from imports of fabrics and finished products. At the end of the year, the national government implemented corrective measures to combat these unfair practices, which will surely improve the business environment for Colombian companies in 2018, namely:

“1. The resolution accepting the antidumping proceeding against denim of Chinese origin. Figures accumulated from January to October 2017 reveal that 17.2 million tons of fabrics entered [Colombia] below the price of US$4.63 per-kilo at the end of the year. This represents 72% of total denim imports in this same period, with China being the main country of origin, followed by India.

“2. Corrective measures: Decree 2218 defines more stringent customs controls for imports to combat textiles with ostensibly low prices (below US$2.50 per kilo). The average price of these imports in 2017 was US$1.36 per kilo.

“For a reference, the average price of cotton (the main raw material of these products) on the world market in the same period was US$1.58 per kilo.

“3. There were also intensified police operations that led to important achievements against smuggling, including the apprehension of large volumes of products illegally entered into the country, and the [shut-down] of several companies . . .

“Understanding the movements by both Fabricato [to reduce production] and the national government [to block illegal imports] in 2017, the impacts expected for [2018] are as follows:

“Despite our consolidation of production in a single industrial unit [at Bello, Antioquia], Fabricato starts its operation in 2018 without affecting installed capacity in relation to 2017. As a natural consequence, better efficiency is expected, lower operating costs and lower administrative costs, that is, a higher level of competitiveness.

“The Rionegro [Antioquia factory] property will be destined for the development of an industrial park, which will represent additional income for the company.

“Fabricato will reorient its production program internally without considering the use of 100% of its installed capacity as a primary objective, controlling in a more strict way the level of inventories and stimulating the anticipated programming by the customers; this will represent a better flow of business and consequently a lower stress on cash flow.

“In November 2017, the national government accepted the anti-dumping proceeding against denim fabrics of Chinese origin. This measure will allow local producers to access this portion of the market.

“In December 2017, the national government issued a decree in which the price thresholds for the importation of textile products were defined, with the aim of providing a solution to the problem of under-invoiced imports. This measure covers approximately 30% of textile imports of 2017 from all sources and specifications, and will also allow local producers to access this portion of the market.

“As of the second half of last year, the intensification of operations against smuggling was perceived. In one of them, the largest in recent history in the country, record volumes of smuggled products were apprehended, leading to the extinction of several companies.

“In addition to these measures, and their expected positive consequences, the expectation of a business environment will also be positive for the year 2018. Some indicators that lead us to this optimistic view are the higher price of oil, the reduction in the basic interest rate, controlled inflation, the improvement of consumer perception and the good turnover that was perceived at the end of 2017.

“Due to the foregoing, we believe that the year 2017 does not reflect a structural change in the business environment; We understand that many factors of negative impact coincided in this year and that they were delayed by the competent authorities.

“We certify a gradual recovery of our businesses starting in 2018, as the stocks of imported products under unfair practices are depleted,” the company concluded.


Medellin-based pension-fund administrator Protección announced March 16 that its full-year 2017 net income rose 34% year-on-year, to COP$343 billion (US$120 million).

Protección is one of the largest of the private pension funds in Colombia, and also owns the “AFP Crecer” pension fund in El Salvador.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 17% year-on-year, to COP$489 billion (US$171 million), with an EBITDA margin of 42%, up 6.48% year-on-year.

Commenting on the positive results, Protección cited “demographic changes that heighten the urgency to save from an earlier age, for a life expectancy that continues to grow.”

While Colombian gross domestic product (GDP) grew by a weak 1.8% last year, key financial markets outperformed, as the S&P 500 stock index soared 22% and Colombia’s “Colcap” stock index gained 12% last year, the company noted.

Protección administers three funds – “obligatory” pensions (contributions from workers and employers); “voluntary” pensions (contributions entirely from individuals) and worker-compensation funds (“cesantias”), collectively covering 6.7 million Colombians. Proteccion’s assets-under-management (AUM) for these three funds now tops COP$91 trillion (US$32 billion).

The “obligatory” sector accounts for the bulk of AUM, at COP$82 trillion (US$28 billion). This fund covers 4.4 million workers and 32,000 current pensioners. Proteccion has a 36% share of the Colombian “obligatory” pension market (measured by AUM) and 29.6% by number of affiliated workers.

The “voluntary” sector assets under Protección management hit COP$7.2 trillion (US$2.5 billion) in 2017, or 42.3% of the entire Colombian “voluntary” pension sector (as measured AOM) and 53.9% by number of persons affiliated, the company added.

Outlook for 2018

Meanwhile, Protección now foresees a relatively positive outlook for 2018, based on assumptions including three more interest-rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve and better GDP growth in Colombia this year.

“We agree with [Colombian government] and International Monetary Fund forecasts indicating [Colombian] GDP growth between 2.8% and 3%” this year, according to Protección.

“As for the [Colombian national] pension system, we are sure the next government will make adjustments [following this spring’s elections],” the company added.

“We have to face the reality of longer life-spans. The portion of adults in the general population will more-than triple by 2050 in Latin America -- from 16.5 million today to 55.8 million -- in contrast to general population growth of only 20%.

“These factors will force us to act in advance -- to develop complementary models for pensions as well as [to improve] public education about savings,” the company added.


EPM 2017 Net Profit Jumps 19% Year-on-Year

Wednesday, 21 March 2018 10:21 Written by

Medellin-based multinational utilities giant EPM announced March 20 that full-year 2017 net profits rose 19% year-on-year, to COP$2.2 trillion (US$772 million).

As a result, the city of Medellin – EPM’s sole owner -- netted COP$1.2 trillion (US$421 million) in profit-sharing, accounting for roughly 20% of the city’s total finances.

EPM also invested COP$2.5 trillion (US$877 million) in water, power and sewage infrastructure in Antioquia last year, the company added. Of that total, COP$1.7 trillion (US$596 million) went into the continuing construction of the US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant in Antioquia, due for initial start-up at year-end 2018.

“When EPM does well, Medellín and its inhabitants win, because there are more resources via transfers for social programs and for the development of the city,” the company added.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 27% year-on-year, to COP$3.1 billion (US$1.08 billion).

Despite profit improvements, Colombian revenues actually declined 12% year-on-year, to COP$7.4 trillion (US$2.6 billion) because of the impact of relatively rainy 2016 (helping hydropower output) versus the relatively drier 2017.

Consolidated revenues (all subsidiaries included) were COP$14.9 trillion (US$5.2 billion), of which EPM’s Colombia parent contributed 48%, foreign subsidiaries 35%, national energy subsidiaries 15% and national water subsidiaries 2%, according to the company.

EPM general manager Jorge Londoño de la Cuesta added that 2017 delivered the highest net profit in company history, mainly thanks to “proper management of costs and expenses.”

Corporate-wide debt-to-EBITDA ratio improved to 3.43 in 2017 versus 3.69 in 2016

Total asset value rose 10% year-on-year, to COP$47.3 trillion (US$16.6 billion), while equity grew 5%, to COP$20.9 trillion (US$7.3 billion), the company added.


Medellin-based gold miner Mineros SA announced March 16 that its full-year 2017 net profits in Colombia rose 16% year-on-year, to COP$114.7 billion (US$40 million).

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in Colombia hit COP$187.9 billion (US$65.8 million), or 48% of sales.

Corporate-wide, consolidated net income rose 32% year-on-year, to COP$117 billion (US$41 million), while consolidated EBITDA rose 17%, to COP$283 billion (US$99 million).

Total gold output rose 8.7% year-on-year, to 208,054 ounces, while average sale price rose 4.1%, to US$1,250/ounce.

Commenting on the results, Mineros noted that world gold prices at year-end 2017 hit US$1,302 per ounce, up 13% year-on-year; average 2017 gold prices were US$1,257.

Relatively strong gold prices came in reaction to falling values of the U.S. dollar along with international political troubles, including threats of war between the USA and North Korea, the company noted.

Meanwhile, world gold production last year reached a new record of 3,268.7 tons, “marginally higher than that observed in 2016 (3,263 tons),” Mineros noted.

“From the point of view of demand, the global manufacture of jewelry increased by 4% to 2,135.5 tons,” according to Mineros.

“This is the first annual increase in this item since 2013, when the demand for gold for investment fell 23%, passing from 1,595.5 tons in 2016 to 1,231.9 tons in 2017.

“Central banks continued to increase their gold reserves for the eighth consecutive year, but at a slower pace than the one observed the previous year, buying 371.4 tons compared to the 389.8 tons purchased in 2016.

“The demand for gold for the technology industry and for dentistry increased 3% compared to that observed in 2016, going from 323.4 to 332.8 tons. These changes generated a net reduction in demand close to 7%, going from 4,378.20 tons in 2016 to 4,071.7 tons in 2017,” Mineros noted.

In Colombia, Mineros SA’s mainly alluvial gold production remained flat year-on-year, at 89,709 ounces. Underground gold production in Colombia fell 14% year-on-year, to 13,664 ounces.

In Nicaragua, production at its Hemco subsidiary rose 22% year-on-year, to 104,681 ounces of gold equivalent, according to the company. Mineros added that in 2018, the company will concentrate greenfield exploration mainly in Nicaragua.

Socially Responsible Mining

Meanwhile, Mineros continues to support environmentally and socially responsible mining in Colombia – in part by eliminating toxic mercury from is mainly alluvial operations, in contrast to criminal and reckless mining practiced by others.

Among Mineros social-environmental projects in 2017:

1.A “business strengthening” program, which last year provided financial credits and consulting to 25 entrepreneurial companies, “aimed at developing skills that not only help them to be better entrepreneurs but also better citizens.”

2. Apicultural production project: This program – supported in part by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s “Legal Gold” program -- continues to grow, with 100 families associated to the ASAPIBAS (Association of Beekeepers of the Lower Cauca and Southern Bolivar) cooperative in 20 villages near El Bagre, Nechí, Zaragoza, Anorí and Caucasia, Antioquia. These cooperatives produced 13 tons of honey last year, netting close to COP$271 million (US$95,000) in supplemental income.

These families also recently founded three laboratories for the production of bee-biological nuclei, “in order to continue growing and populating their apicultural units. Also, 120 new hectares were reforested in order to increase the floral supply available, while also serving as an environmental contribution for the region, rehabilitating areas [wrecked] by informal mining,” the company added.

3. Business and human rights project with the United Nations: “We continue supporting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in actions for the construction of peace and citizen coexistence” in mining areas, Mineros noted.

This project “supported the training of 50 members of the Committees of Coexistence of El Bagre that participate in the formulation of development programs with a territorial approach, while six education and recreation campaigns were carried out to generate bonds of trust, confidence and coexistence in neighborhoods of El Bagre and Zaragoza.”

4. Mining legalization: In 2017, Mineros provided technical-assistance loans to the informal miner group EMIJOM (Empresa de Mineros de Jobo Medio-Emijom) "for the improvement of ore beneficiation processes, in order to increase gold recovery and avoid the use of mercury."

5. Wetlands program: During 2017, Mineros helped clean 14 hectares of water and water-supply access pipes in natural marshes, working jointly with the communities of Sabalito Sinaí, Guamo-Guachí, El Pital, San Pedro and La Esperanza.

“In the same way, the community of Puerto Gaitán worked on cleaning the waters of the La Esperanza swamp,” with Mineros payments for this project generating extra income for local workers while also boosting environmental protection, the company added.

6. Conservation of river turtles: “In 2017, communities from the municipalities of Nechí, Zaragoza, Caucasia and El Bagre participated in nine conservation-center operations, achieving the release of 1,300 individuals of this species,” according to Mineros.

7. Fish farming and repopulation program: “Fulfilling the environmental management plan, during 2017 the repopulation of the Bocachico species was continued -- considered of great importance in the diet of the riverside populations and also because Bocachico is classified as an endangered species. With the participation of the fishing communities of Nechí and the National Authority of Aquaculture and Fisheries (AUNAP), we introduced 500,000 Bocachico fingerlings in strategic wetlands including La Taburetera, El Sapo, Corrales and La Esperanza,” according to Mineros.

8. Reforestation program: “In 2017, we planted about 120,000 trees of different native species on 60.5 hectares of land left behind after the alluvial operation (involving hydraulic landfills),” the company noted.

9. Agroforestry plots: This program added 48 more plots in 2017, “all built in the recovery zones left by the [alluvial] production units. In agroforestry systems, there are about 750 hectares [of reforested plots], where honey is produced, along with yam, yucca, banana, corn, rice, fruit and vegetables in home gardens. These activities are complemented with artisanal fishing, poultry, pigs, rams and cattle,” according to Mineros.

10. Rubber plantations: As of 2017, “the population of rubber trees planted amounted to 450,000 trees in about 1,000 hectares. Of these, the first 28,000 trees entered latex production,” the company added.


Medellin-based recycled plastics textile manufacturing specialist Enka Colombia announced March 15 that its full-year 2017 net profit fell to COP$1.7 billion (US$595,000), down from COP$10.6 billion (US$3.7 million) in 2016.

Colombia’s weak economy in 2017 combined with a 25% drop in domestic demand for textiles hurt Enka sales and profits -- but growing exports helped to compensate for domestic declines, according to the company.

Operating revenues rose 10% year-on-year, to COP$357 billion (US$125 million), once excluding the negative impact of sales terminations in economically wrecked “socialist” Venezuela.

Exports (excluding Venezuela) now account for 48% of Enka sales, up from 41% in 2016, according to the company. Sales to Brazil rose 29% year-on-year, while sales of filament for the fisheries industries in Perú, Chile and Spain also rose, according to the company.

México and the USA also boosted purchases of certain Enka fibers for production of tires and specialty clothing, the company added.

Following US$100 million invested in high technology, Enka is now the leading recycler of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic from plastic bottles -- turning this waste material into novel textiles for clothing as well as specialty filament for tire manufacture.

“Our company is totally immersed in the global economy, taking raw materials from Asia, Europe and the Americas and then transforming and distributing products to clients in 19 countries,” according to Enka.

Today, 51% of its products are made from recycled plastics. But this is about to grow thanks to further investments in machinery that will convert not just plastic bottles but also plastic caps and labels into textile material, according to Enka.

This new process will start-up in second-half 2018, producing a recycled resin of “excellent quality and contributing to the sustainability of the plastic sector in Colombia,” according to the company.

Enka now has two PET recycling plants with capacity to process 34,000 tonnes per year; its national recovery system also is capable of collecting and reprocessing more than 1 billion PET bottles every year, according to the company.

Growing environmental consciousness around the world is helping to boost this business, further spurred by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) initiatives that have been embraced by the Colombian government.

Thanks to advanced technology investments, product innovations and productivity gains, “we have developed a wide portfolio of differentiated products that meet the needs of the most profitable market niches, thus reducing our exposure to Asian commodity producers,” according to Enka.

Novel textile materials generated COP$246 billion (US$86 million) in sales last year, up 4% year-on-year, accounting for 69% of total sales.

Meanwhile, Enka’s virgin PET sales would have been even greater in 2017 except for the situation in Venezuela, the company added.

Industrial thread 2017 sales grew 8% by volume and 18% by revenues year-on-year, with 85% of those sales going to export markets.

While filament sales were hurt by the plunge in Colombian textile production, filament sales to Brazil and Argentina helped compensate. As a result, filament sales showed net drop of 2% year-on-year, while Colombia sales dropped from 22% of sales in 2016 to just 15% of sales in 2017.

Thanks to investments in “EkoPET” technology, industrial thread modernization and self-generation of electric power, Enka added that it has boosted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) by 80% over the past eight years.

For 2017, EBITA came-in at COP$23 billion (US$8 million), up 4.7% year-on-year when excluding Venezuela..

Gains in cash-flow also cut financial debt, so that by year-end 2017, Enka’s debt ratio fell to 1.6-times EBITDA, according to the company.


The Chamber of Commerce of Medellin for Antioquia (CCMA) projects that Antioquia likely will see 3% growth in gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) this year, up from 2.2% last year.

As noted in a March 15 bulletin from Confecamaras (the Colombian national association of chambers of commerce), Antioquia out-performed Colombia nationally last year, with 2.2% GDP growth locally versus just 1.8% nationally.

As for 2018, the Medellin chamber foresees 3% GDP local growth thanks to “lower interest rates, growth in industrial exports, better prospects for private investment and public spending,” the report noted.

In a related report posted to the Medellin chamber’s web-site (http://www.camaramedellin.com.co/site/Noticias/Desempeno-economico-de-Antioquia-y-perspectivas.aspx), CCMA noted that exports from Antioquia grew 3.3% last year – to US$4.478 billion. Gold, fruits (especially bananas), coffee, vehicles, flowers, clothing, plastics, machinery and essential oils were the leading export products.

Meanwhile, copper exports jumped by 126% year-on-year --mainly to Spain and Singapore – while textile exports grew 15%, mainly to Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico, according to CCMA.

While local government spending grew 4% here, up from 2.4% in 2016, “industry, commerce and construction showed lower growth because of slow growth in internal demand and the negative impact of the [2017] tax reform, affecting personal consumption,” the CCMA report notes.

Investment in private corporations last year grew 18.6% year-on-year, by COP$1.01 trillion (US$353 million), with management consulting, road transport, metal-mining, machinery installation and maintenance, lumber and fisheries, health-care, and telecommunications taking leadership among all investment categories, according to the report.

However, industrial production in metro Medellin declined by 4.6% year-on-year through September 2017, while local industrial energy demand fell 7.9%, the report noted. The biggest declines were in textiles, iron works, foundries and clothing manufacture, according to CCMA.

While 139 companies relocated to Medellin from elsewhere in Colombia (mainly Bogota and Barranquilla) during 2017, 133 other companies decided to leave Medellin, mainly going to Bogota, Cali, Barranquilla and Cartagena, the report found.

Factors attracting companies to Medellin include relatively favorable access to clients and suppliers, the existence of local companies providing required services and information, relatively good urban and social infrastructure, qualified labor, relatively efficient public administration, and the existence of research centers (such as universities), the CCMA report found.

However, negative factors cited by companies included relative costs of public services, relatively high land costs, lack of local natural-resources, labor costs, lack of fiscal incentives and some concerns about security.


The annual “Medellin Como Vamos” (“how are we doing?”) citizen survey released March 15 finds that while most Medellin residents remain relatively optimistic, Colombia’s economic slowdown in 2017 pushed the favorability index downward.

The face-to-face survey in November 2017 of 1,500 residents across all zones and all socio-economic strata found that in general -- compared to the 2016 survey -- Medellin residents trimmed their relative satisfaction with the city as a place to live, while individual satisfaction with the quality of life “fell appreciably compared to 2016 and compared to the historical average of each one of the ratings,” according to the survey report.

With employment and health being the top-two concerns of Medellin citizens, “it is telling that in [2017] the national economy showed signs of stagnation, with a consolidated growth of 1.8%, the lowest registered since 2010, and very similar to that registered in 2009, when the economy grew by 1.7%,” the report noted.

“This was reflected in fewer job opportunities for all those who sought employment in the city and the metropolitan region, with an unemployment rate that remained above 10%. Thus, while 27,000 new jobs were created, the population that was looking for work also grew, resulting in 7,000 more people unemployed.

“Regarding health, the results of the survey show that, in a context of greater coverage of the health service and greater reported access, there are still pending challenges to be solved, specifically in terms of quality,” the survey added.

Availability of prompt outpatient service declined year-on-year, “with two out of 10 Medellin residents having to wait more than 30 days,” the survey found. “Although satisfaction with the health service remained stable, comparatively [the ranking] remains one of the lowest among the goods and services investigated by the survey.”

For Medellin’s poorest sectors (“estrato 1” and “estrato 2”), the overwhelming majority of them are in the government-subsidized sector affiliated to the Savia Salud “EPS” (health maintenance organization), in which the city of Medellin owns 36.65%, the departmental Antioquia government another 36.65%, and worker-benefits cooperative insurer Comfama owning the remaining 26.7%.

Problem: Savia Salud is running more than US$250 million in the red, as spending far out-runs income -- and politicians warn of potential financial collapse. Such a collapse would leave some 1.7 million of the poorest residents in Antiqouia --the majority of which live in and around Medellin – without health insurance.

Among the 13 measurements in the survey: “subjective well-being,” in which those surveyed indicated average satisifaction of 6.99 points on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst possible and 10 the best possible.

As for “poverty and inequality,” the percentage of inhabitants of Medellín considering themselves as “poor” fell slightly in the 2017 survey, at 19%.

As for “citizen security,” the percentage of people in Medellín who considered the city to be safe “decreased by four percentage points [in 2017] compared to 2016,” the survey found.

As for “environment,” air-pollution concerns grew, as “air is the environmental aspect of Medellín with which fewer citizens are satisfied,” according to the report. Only 15% of citizens surveyed said they were “satisified” with air quality – by far the worst result among all survey questions, the report noted.

As for “public management,” the survey found that “employment, health and housing are the agenda items that citizens propose” for the Medellin Mayor to put as highest priorities.

As for “economic situation, food and employment,” only 38% of Medellin households said their economic situation improved in 2017, wheareas in 2016, 51% cited improvements.

As for “education,” 79% of the surveyed homes in Medellín indicated they were “satisfied with the education received by children and young people between 5 and 17 years old.”

As for “housing and public services,” Medellin citizens “remained highly satisfied with their housing and their neighborhood. The public natural-gas home service maintained the highest satisfaction while internet [service] rated the lowest satisfaction," according to the report.

As for “mobility and public space,” 35% of those surveyed “affirmed that their trips took longer in 2017 than in 2016,” because of continuing growth of the motor-vehicle population -- without a corresponding growth in road infrastructure or a corresponding increase in high-capacity, high-quality public-transit options.

As for “citizen responsibility,” the survey found that “ethnic minorities, reintegrated people [those fleeing the countryside to relocate in the city] and people with different sexual orientations were the groups about whom there is less respect in Medellín.”

The annual “como vamos” surveys are sponsored by Fundación Proantioquia, the Medellin and Bogota Chambers of Commerce, Eafit University, Comfama, daily newspapers El Colombiano and El Tiempo, and Fundación Corona.

 


Colombia’s Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI) infrastructure-project agency president Dimitri Zaninovich on March 13 publicly hailed what he termed as multi-billion-dollar investments in “fourth generation” (4G) highways connecting Medellin and Antioquia to key ocean freight ports.

In a speech following inspection of Colombia’s first-ever unified air-freight inspection zone at Medellin’s Jose Maria Cordova (JMC) international airport – now 56% complete and due for start-up by December 2018 -- Zaninovich cited “4G” investments that would top COP$23 trillion [US$8 billion], benefitting Medellín and Antioquia.

Zaninovich claimed that the projects are moving ahead promptly. But he failed to highlight that the crucial “Pacifico 1” divided highway -- linking the southern Medellin suburb of Caldas to Colombia’s main Pacific port at Buenaventura via the under-construction “Pacifico 2” and “Pacifico 3” highways -- has been stalled for years, with little explanation on the hang-up.

“Pacífico 2 and Pacifico 3 have advanced by 33% and 40% respectively,” he said. “We can’t lose forward progress that Colombia has achieved until now, because we’re moving ahead -- and great infrastructure projects already are a reality,” he said.

“Public-private association” (APP in Spanish initials) contracts involved in highway, ocean-port and airport projects are unprecedented in Antioquia, he added. These 4G highway projects will cut freight transport times by at least 30%, he added.

Major cities in Colombia (including Medellin) are severely penalized by expensive freight transport costs -- the result of Colombia’s decades-long delays in building high-speed, divided highways over-and-through the nation’s steep, mountainous terrain.

To overcome this problem, the national government is working with private-sector development consortiums on all the "4G" highway projects including Pacífico 1, 2 and 3; Mar 1 and Mar 2; Conexión Norte; Autopista al Río Magdalena 2; and the 100%-private initiatives “Vías del Nus” and the “Antioquia-Bolívar” highway links, he added.

What’s more, ANI is also working to push-forward the “Transversal de las Américas” highway linking Atlantic ports as well as the proposed “Vial del Oriente” highway connecting the “oriente” (east of Medellin) region to Llanogrande (next-to the JMC international airport).

Zaninovich added that ANI also favors development of two proposed ocean-freight ports near Turbo, Antioquia: “Puerto Antioquia” and “Puerto de Pisisi.”


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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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