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Published in general news Written by May 05 2020 0

Colombia’s Transport Ministry announced May 5 that -- following consultations with local Mayors -- vehicle repair shops and auto-parts stores will be the next economic sectors to be freed from Coronavirus quarantines.

“Based on the requests and evaluations of the municipal Mayors, the [Transport Ministry’s] Logistics and Transportation Center will approve the establishments that will be able to operate,” according to the Ministry.

“All establishments must comply with biosafety protocols in the framework of the fight against the pandemic derived from Covid-19. Employees must carry out their activities with the respective [biosafety rules] and good biosecurity practices.”

Any exemption from quarantine “must be done in compliance with the special biosecurity protocols established by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection," according to the Ministry.

“Each Mayor’s office would receive a petition from each of the establishments, which must demonstrate their ability to comply with biosafety protocols and show proof of being legally constituted, that is, they must have a Commercial Registry before the respective Chamber of Commerce.

“The mayoralties will analyze the operating conditions of these establishments according to the particular needs and the control capacity of the sanitary emergency of each municipality, and will send the request to the [Transport Ministry’s] Logistics and Transportation Center for approval of operation of the establishments.”

The transport modes to be used by employees to-and-from these shops “should be taken into account, among other aspects, to minimize the concentrations of people and the peculiarities of each territory,” according to the Ministry.

Municipalities “will be in charge of regulating the activities of said establishments, as well as verifying that they comply with the sanitary standards required once they are serving the public.

“Once the respective Mayor’s office reviews the sufficiency, quality and veracity of the information sent in the petition by the establishments, that office will proceed to apply [for approval] to the Logistics and Transport Center . . .

“Subsequently, the Logistics and Transportation Center will review the registration of information and documentation by the territorial authorities, and will approve or reject the operation of the proposed establishments.

“The gradual reopening of vehicle maintenance workshops will reinforce the optimal operation of cargo and passenger transport vehicles -- included in the exceptions to the mandatory preventive isolation measure -- since they are the ones who ensure food supply and mobilization. of authorized persons throughout the country, as well as supplies and articles for health during the days of the emergency,” the Ministry added.

Medellin Mayor Cites Construction Sector Opportunities

On a related front, Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero in a May 4 “virtual” meeting with business trade group Camacol Antioquia revealed new opportunities arising -- thanks in part to “positive” experiences so-far with the reopening of construction and manufacturing sectors here.

Novel control-and-identification technologies and the use of “Big Data” are helping Medellin to reopen many companies and jump-start employment, via the pioneering “Medellin Me Cuida” computerized registration platform that helps to minimize risks of Coronavirus infections, he explained.

“With the reopening and everything we are safer than we were a week ago, because today we have companies that presented biosafety protocols, something that we did not have before. Even those companies previously exempt [from quarantines] presented a security protocol. Only 9,000 companies have not [yet] done so,” Quintero revealed.

“It is not because of our slowness [to help ensure a relatively safe economic reopening] that a job is lost in Antioquia. Destroying a job is very easy, creating it is very difficult. We do not want to close again -- and for this we know that it is so important that citizens respect the rules and that businessmen respect the rules, as is the case of Antioquia, and that we civil servants creating dynamic and intelligent strategies that allow us to sustain this opening,” he added.

During the "virtual" meeting, Camacol Antioquia's board “recognized the city's progress in reviving the construction sector compared to other regions,” according to the Mayor’s office.

What's more, Mayor Quintero also highlighted huge new opportunities arising from key projects over the next four years in the “Medellín Futuro 2020-2023 Development Plan,” which foresees a COP$22 trillion (US$5.59 billion) budget.

“There is undoubtedly a [firm commitment] there to advance construction and drive construction,” Quintero explained.

“As a result of the conversations with Camacol, we approved or reflected in the development plan that some city areas that today do not have construction [underway], but that have public services, can be built making a modification even to what the POT [zoning plan] had been proposing -- as long as that happens in the next two years,” he said.

Published in general news Written by April 28 2020 0

Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero revealed April 27 that more than 50,000 metro-area workers in manufacturing and construction already have returned to work -- following a pioneering business/worker registration system for addressing the Coronavirus quarantine crisis.

Passengers on the Medellín “Metro” train, bus, tram and cable-car system increased by 10% on April 27 -- more-than-complying with the national government’s 35% limit on public transit capacity during the Coronavirus crisis, he added.

The successful, partial restart of the local economy here came about “thanks to the measures implemented by the municipal administration in conjunction with other authorities to safeguard the lives of the more than 50,000 workers who today went out to resume their work -- and joined the 350,000 who since the beginning of the quarantine carried out their work with rigorous control,” according to the Mayor.

Companies that registered themselves and their workers on the new “Medellín Me Cuida” computerized platform “allows us to have a complete trace of where [workers] are, to which companies they are going, and in the event of any problem, we can [take preventive action] upon those companies or persons,” Mayor Quintero added.

More company and worker registrations will continue on the “Medellín Me Cuida” platform – not only for manufacturing and construction sectors, but also for other quarantine-exempt sectors including food and health, Quintero added.

Biosafety Protocol Measures

On a parallel front, Colombia’s Health Ministry highlighted new biosafety protocols for manufacturers that took effect April 27.

Under these protocols, reception areas at manufacturing companies must include “physical barriers in the area of receipt of invoices and correspondence” such as “a window that separates the person receiving from those who have correspondence,” according to the Ministry.

“It is important to guarantee the use of latex, nitrile or vinyl face masks and gloves, so that between the receptionist and the messenger the exposure is reduced, as well as having 60% glycerinated alcohol available at the reception in case the person who goes to the reception area does not have gloves, and inform the person who arrives that they must sanitize their hands first,” according to the new protocol.

“The disinfection of packages or items that are received is a key element, as well as the physical distance between workers. So, the location of [manufacturing] machines must be adjusted to ensure two meters of distance between workers in each department.

“In addition, machine operators must properly wear conventional face masks at all times and perform the hand-washing protocol on a regular basis -- at least every three hours -- and must not share the equipment with another worker.

“Cleaning the machines is another factor to keep in mind, as well as ventilating and keeping the material or supplies storage areas in hygienic conditions.

“For operating personnel, the guideline indicates the use of the respiratory, visual and hand protection (gloves) as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Management System, according to the risk and the machinery used. As for work clothes within companies and factories, these must be changed upon entering and prior to departure for other clothing.

“Transport vehicles must be fully disinfected and the driver must have at least 60% glycerinated alcohol for frequent use in the vehicle cabin. It is recommended to stop using air conditioning in the vehicle and opt for natural ventilation, by keeping the windows open.

“Routine temperature taking [of workers] should be performed at the entrance and exit of the shift, at the beginning of the working day and at the end of it (or at least two times per shift) and each company must designate a person responsible for coordinating the implementation and verification of the protocol. In the event of a temperature detection of 38ºC or more, the worker must be sent immediately to your EPS [health provider network].”

As for interaction with clients and suppliers, “if there is a space for sale to the public, [then] interaction with customers should be contactless, leaving and picking up the products in a delivery area and keeping the minimum separation distance of two meters.

“As far as possible, the recommendation is to keep a supplier and customer identification record to serve as a reference in the event that a worker is diagnosed positive for Covid-19, so that contacts can be traced.

“Regarding the workers' shifts, the employer must agree on them in such a way that they are aligned with the biosafety recommendations. Active breaks and cleaning every hour are necessary, [along with] avoiding crowds in common areas, bathrooms and hand washing areas,” according to the new protocols.

Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) Jose Manuel Restrepo added that to date, 20% of Colombia’s 96,000 manufacturing enterprises had already registered and begun implementing biosafety protocols -- as required by new regulations.

Intelligence, Information, Cooperation -- Not Demagoguery

Meanwhile, at a Colombia-America Chamber of Commerce (Amcham Colombia) “virtual” meeting April 28, President Ivan Duque praised the new biosafety protocols and other Coronavirus crisis-response measures undertaken by the private sector along with national, regional and local governments.

Duque stated that decisions for confronting Coronavirus crisis should be based on intelligence and cooperation, rather than demagoguery by those who “want to generate antagonism between social groups or delegitimize the voices and responsibilities of each other.”

Amcham Colombia executive director María Claudia Lacouture added that the groups’ member companies “want to recognize and thank you for the efforts of the national government to combat this pandemic in a responsible, timely and efficient manner.

“This effort has been accompanied by an extraordinary willingness of your cabinet and government officials to provide timely and adequate information,” including rapid responses to business-sector questions and concerns, via internet-virtual meetings, Lacouture told President Duque.

Published in general news Written by April 13 2020 0

The Medellin Mayor’s office announced last night (April 12) that the “pico y cedula” alternating-days individual permissions for grocery, medicines and banking trips are rotating today (April 13) through April 19, and then a new rotation starts again on April 20.

As a result, people with cedula numbers ending in 7, 8 or 9 can venture out today (April 13), while those with cedulas ending in 0 or 1 can venture out tomorrow (see chart, above), followed by successive rotations continuing through April 19.

As of Monday, April 20, people with cedulas ending in 2 or 3 can venture out, while cedulas ending in 4 or 5 can venture out on April 21 (see chart), then successive rotations continue through April 26.

The national quarantine is presumptively set to expire on April 27 (but might be extended).  As a result, it’s conceivable that “pico y cedula” restrictions in major metro areas in Colombia (including metro Medellin) might continue beyond April 27.

Bello, Sabaneta and Itagui also announced "pico y cedula" rotation changes last night, matching the new Medellin numerical rotations.

Meanwhile, other municipalities around Medellin also have had "pico y cedula" restrictions, but hadn't announced any changes as of April 12.

Published in general news Written by April 12 2020 0

Utilities giant EPM and the Mayor of Medellin on April 12 generated more than COP$13 billion (US$3.4 million) worth of private donations – both in cash and also in food -- through a televised “Donaton por Medellin” campaign, aiming to help Coronavirus victims and especially poor families.

Among the first announcing support for the “Donaton” were Bancolombia (COP$400 million/US$104,000). Bancolombia also separately donated another COP$200 million (US$52,000) for a Coronavirus respirator-consortium research project here organized by Medellin-based tech incubator Ruta N and Colombia’s industrial-commercial trade association ANDI.

Medellin-based cement/power/highways concessionaire Grupo Argos pitched-in another COP$400 million (US$104,000) for the “Donaton,” while Medellin-based insurance giant Grupo Sura likewise donated COP$300 million (US$78,000).

Also during the "Donaton," Medellin-based supermarket giant Grupo Exito announced the donation of 20,000 bags of food containing 12 vital, basic items -- all for poor families affected by the crisis. Grupo Exito and its customers have been massively subsidizing basic food packages for poor families, pregnant women and young children for years, on top of the latest "Donaton" donations.

According to the Mayor's office, the biggest single donor late last night was Medellin-based electric power transmission giant ISA (COP$4 billion/ US$1.03 million), followed by Barranquilla-based national charity Fundacion Santo Domingo (COP$500 million/ US$129,000).

 Antioquia-based dairy cooperative Colanta pitched-in another COP$300 million (US$78,000) while banana-producer cooperative Uniban chipped-in COP$100 million (US$26,000).

The Medellin-based Une-EPM "Tigo" national telecom/internet company put in another COP$400 million (US$104,000) and Tigo employees added another COP$220 million (US$57,000) worth of food-bank donations for the poor.

Freight logistics specialist Distrimarcas contributed COP$100 million (US$26,000) while agricultural supplies giant Grupo Bios added another COP$260 million (US$67,000), according to the Mayor. 

Medellin-based international rock-star musicians Maluma (COP$200 million/US$52,000), J Balvin (20,000 food baskets) and Juanes (780 food baskets) also announced donations to the "Donaton," while Argos, Sura, Bancolombia and Medellin-based multinational foods giant Nutresa separately announced joint collaborations on more, massive food donations for poor families affected by Coronavirus crisis.

In total, more than 100,000 bags of basic food packages for the poor had been pledged or gathered during the “Donaton.”

President Duque Abolishes Home-Delivery Restrictions

Meanwhile, Colombia President Ivan Duque announced April 12 that as of the first minute of Monday, April 13, prior hours-of-operations restrictions on home deliveries of foods and groceries to quarantined people will be eliminated during the Coronavirus crisis.

Under “Decree 536,” the former 6:00 am to 8:00 pm restriction for home deliveries is eliminated as of April 13, according to the President.

On a related front, President Duque separately announced that “more than 100 medical products to attend the [Coronavirus crisis] situation will not have VAT [value-added tax].”

“Today we need to be more united than ever to overcome this pandemic, but also beyond today we have to be more united than ever to get our country moving ahead, our economy ahead, our jobs ahead, our opportunities ahead,” he added.

Deaths Soon Topping 100 Nationally

Meanwhile, Colombia’s Health Ministry reported that as of April 11, Colombia had a total of 2,709 cases of Coronavirus, led by Bogota (1,164); Cali/Valle del Cauca (479) and Medellin/Antioquia (253).

So far, 100 persons have died from Coronavirus complications (including one 90-year-old woman in Antioquia) while 214 persons have recovered fully, according to the Ministry.

Published in general news Written by April 10 2020 0

Medellin-based multinational utilities giant EPM announced April 8 that it continues work on its US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric dam in Antioquia despite the Cornavirus crisis that forced quarantines on most commercial and industrial operations.

“The works currently being carried out in the [Hidroituango] project are among the 34 exceptions established by the national government in [Coronavirus quarantine] Decree 457,” EPM noted.

“During this global emergency, the project must continue on several fronts, to mitigate risks and protect the lives of the people who live downstream from the dam works.

“The Hidroituango hydroelectric project has been duly preparing for the timely attention of any case [given the possibility that] Covid-19 may appear among its workers who today work in the Tacuí-Cuní camps of EPM and Villa Luz of the CCCI construction consortium.

“During the [quarantine] containment phase, the project concentrated its efforts on preventing the entry of the virus into the camps, and although the containment tasks continue, they are articulated with the implementation of a timely care plan for all those who might become infected within of the project facilities or its camps.

“Through an agreement with the National School of Public Health of the University of Antioquia, an epidemiological surveillance system has been strengthened for the timely detection of any suspected case of Covid-19, the provision of training services and strengthening the municipal health teams for a timely and efficient response to epidemiological alert situations.”

In addition, “personnel with vulnerable conditions -- hypertension, diabetes, cardiac or pulmonary alteration, cancer, immunodeficiencies, those over 60 years of age and women in pregnancy and lactation -- are identified. These staff remain in their homes, under quarantine,” according to EPM.

Further prevention measures include “vehicle disinfection and registration, permanent hand washing, taking of body temperature, disinfection processes for workers, prevention training processes for restaurant personnel, drivers, contractors, and management personnel” as well as “preventive measures in camp restaurants [by] enforcing distance between [serving] lines to avoid closeness and crowding of people.”

Public Utilities Work Continues Normally

Meanwhile, EPM’s electric power, water, sewerage treatment and natural gas utility services continue normally, as the Coronavirus quarantine order specifically exempts public utility workers.

In water and sewer services alone, EPM has 1.29 million customer hookups in Antioquia, serving more than 5 million users in the municipalities of Barbosa, Girardota, Copacabana, Bello, Medellín, Envigado, Itagüí, Sabaneta, La Estrella and Caldas (Valle de Aburrá) and Rionegro (eastern Antioquia).

EPM’s drinking-water transport lines in Antioquia alone total more than 4,195 kilometers. The utility also owns and operates 4,836 kilometers of sewage collection and transport networks here; two huge wastewater treatment plants (in Medellin and Bello); 42 pumps, 125 potable water storage tanks, 100 aqueduct circuits, 73 water-collection basins, 10 purification plants and big water-storage dams including Riogrande II, La Fe and Piedras Blancas.

“For this gigantic infrastructure to operate, we have 1,086 people working -- 613 of them in the field who oversee, repair and maintain networks and equipment to guarantee the safety of the operation,” according to EPM.

“Additionally, these personnel have worked with dedication to reconnect public services to households that due to late payment had been disconnected” prior to the Coronavirus crisis -- following which national and local governments required all Colombian utilities to reconnect delinquent payers at least for the duration of the crisis.

Published in general news Written by April 01 2020 0

The Mayor of Medellin announced April 1 that to reduce Coronavirus threats, only persons with specific cedula numbers can venture out for groceries, drugs and banking – two days each week – starting the first minute after midnight April 2 until the national quarantine ends -- presumptively on April 13.

“Each person will have two days a week -- between 7:00 a.m.  and 8:00 p. m -- so that you can provide your home with groceries, medicines and toiletries, and carry out bank procedures,” according to the Mayor’s office.

“This measure will govern as long as the mandatory preventive isolation determined by the national government in decree 457 of 2020 is maintained.”

According to the Mayor, the following cedula numbers are EXEMPT from quarantine for shopping, drugs and banking trips on the following days:

Mondays: Cedula numbers ending in 1-2-3
Tuesdays: Cedula numbers ending in 4-5-6.
Wednesdays: Cedula numbers ending in 7-8-9
Thursdays: Cedula numbers ending in 0-1-2
Fridays: Cedula numbers ending in 3-4-5
Saturdays: Cedula numbers ending in 6-7-8
Sundays: Cedula numbers ending in 0-9

Medellin joins other nearby municipalities including Envigado, Rionegro and El Retiro, all of which have already adopted variable-number "pico y cedula" restrictions on shopping and banking.

In Medellin, violators of "pico y cedula" will face fines of up-to COP$932,0000 (US$228), according to the Mayor.

According to the Colombia Ministry of Health, as of April 1, Medellin/Antioquia accounted for 107 of the 1,065 Coronavirus cases nationally, of which nationally 17 have died --none in Antioquia -- and 39 have fully recovered so far.

Published in general news Written by March 26 2020 0

The Mayor of Medellin and utilities giant EPM jointly announced March 25 the creation of “Fondo Abrazando con Amor” charity, whereby individuals and companies can donate funds to help Coronavirus victims within EPM’s area of operations.

Donations can be made to the fund’s Bancolombia “cuenta corriente,” account number 598-095455-40, according to EPM. The web page for "Fondo Abrazando con Amor" is available here: https://www.grupo-epm.com/site/fundacionepm/abrazando-con-amor.

“The EPM Foundation will be in charge of managing donations, benefitting groups of people or entities affected by the emergency as a result of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the areas of influence of our business group,” according to EPM.

“People and institutions can make their donations or contributions through a QR code, transfer by PSE and other virtual channels authorized by the bank, in order to facilitate community support.

“The accumulated collection and execution of all donations and contributions received by the fund will be published on our website and on social networks of the EPM Foundation, as well as those of EPM and the Mayor's Office of Medellín,” the company added.

As of March 26, Colombia's Ministry of Health reported a nationwide total of 491 cases of Coronavirus, led by Bogota (187), Cali/Valle de Cauca (73) and Medellin (59).

So far, six Colombians have died from Coronavirus complications -- three in Bogota, one in Santa Marta, one in Cali and one in Cartagena, according to the Ministry. Another eight persons are reported to have recovered from the disease.

Published in general news Written by March 26 2020 0

Medellin-born multinational bottled-beverages manufacturing giant Postobon announced March 25 that it’s investing COP$9 billion (US$2.2 million) in the “#InnspiraMED” joint project developing special respirators for Coronavirus victims.

A day later (March 26), Medellin-based international table-salt ("Refisal") manufacturer/marketer Brinsa announced that it's adding COP$1 billion (US$251,000) to the project, with the result that "#InnspiraMED" starts with a COP$10 billion (US$2.5 million) funding source to push-along the project.

Later, the "#InnspiraMED" project revelead that Medellin-based banking giant Bancolombia also chipped-in another COP$321 million (US$80,000).

The #InnspiraMED project includes several leading Antioquian companies and research partners in multiple fields.

“With interdisciplinary teams, three prototypes are being developed that can be produced with materials and supplies available or easily available,” according to Medellin-based tech incubator Ruta N.

“#InnspiraMED is an initiative in which more than 50 actors from the science, technology and innovation ecosystem participate today, articulating Ruta N and [Colombia’s national industrial-commercial trade association] ANDI,” according to the organization.

“This investment is guided by one criterion: saving lives,” added Miguel Fernando Escobar, president of Postobón.

Among the Medellin-metro-based entities involved in the “#InnspiraMED" initiative: University of Antioquia-GIBIC; EIA University; Ruta N; ANDI; government of Antioquia; Hospital San Vicente Fundación; TECHFIT Digital Surgery; Sampedro Medical Industries; C2R Engineering SAS; HyS Automation and Control; Invertronic; 10X Thinking; Sofasa Renault; Auteco; Haceb; Los Pinos Metal Industries; CES University; EMCO SA; Las Americas Clinic; Santafé Foundation; Medellin Molds; Reflect; Meridiano SAS; Brinsa; and Ion Heat.

Published in general news Written by March 25 2020 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced March 25 that certain measures designed to contain the spread of Coronovirus will continue past the presumptive expiration of the national quarantine on April 13.

The announcement came on the heels of a March 25 bulletin from the Ministry of Health indicating that confirmed Coronavirus cases rose to 470 nationally, led by Bogota (170), Cali/Valle del Cauca (71) and Medellin/Antioquia (59). So far, eight persons have recovered from the disease.

According to the Ministry, four persons have died to date from complications related to Coronavirus, including a taxi driver in Cartagena who had mingled with infected Italian tourists; a 70-year-old woman in Cali exposed to the virus by a daughter who returned from a trip to Cuba; an 88-year-old man in Santa Marta who frequently interacted with tourists; and a 76-year-old man in Bogotá.

Meanwhile, between now and April 13, “we will evaluate the behavior of the pandemic curve and then make decisions on the measures and restrictions adopted,” President Duque said.

Government and private-sector management of the Coronavirus pandemic “does not end with quarantine,” he added.

“In that I want to be clear, so that we have managed expectations. It's not that on April 13 we will all be able to go outside, go to a concert, then go to a bar to celebrate. No. The controls will continue.

“On April 20, we will define whether children and young people can return to universities and schools, or whether they should remain in virtual [online] classes.”

As for social-distancing measures, Duque stated that “we will have to deepen them and strengthen hygiene measures.” Special isolation of people over 70 years of age, “which is the sector most vulnerable to attacks by this virus,” will continue until at least May 30.

Worker Protections

Meanwhile, on another front, President Duque stated that “the national government is not planning to support or promote mass layoffs, but rather protect the employment and well-being of workers.”

For the short term, “the government is working on a decree that would allow partial withdrawal of social-security savings, equivalent to a minimum wage, to help workers who face difficulties in specific cases,” he said.

However, some new, massive, long-term government unemployment insurance program – similar to systems in North America, Europe and Japan -- likely isn’t in the cards, he added.

“We know that we do not have the deep pockets that other economies have, but here we have all the will, all the creativity and all the patriotism so that, together, we will build a solution that allows us to go through this storm with the least possible social trauma,” he said.

“For example, for employees who will eventually be on [mandatory] vacation or even some who have had unpaid leave, what we expect today is to have a decree where a partial withdrawal of severance pay can be made, equivalent to the last salary, to be able to also overcome this difficulty,” he said.

New, US $1.47 Billion Emergency Fund Under ‘Decree 444’

On another front, Duque explained how a new, COP$6 trillion (US$1.47 billion) “Emergency Mitigation Fund” (FOME in Spanish initials)  via “Decree 444” will ensure continuing transfers from the national treasury to Colombia’s 32 departmental governments.

The FOME “does not authorize money for banks, but instead will meet the needs of 20 million Colombians in this emergency,” Duque stated.

The emergency funds will come from current Colombian government holdings in U.S. Treasury Bonds, which are already held in various banks.

“That money is [already] in banks and precisely what we want is that those resources, with projected [cash] flows to 2040, we can use for this social contingency,” Duque said.

Tapping these bonds rather than other government holdings is “precisely so as not to affect the strategic projects that are being carried out, precisely so that important projects that we have with territorial entities do not stop: the Metro de Bogotá, the ‘Regiotram,’ the Avenida 80 streetcar in Medellín; [highway] projects like Mar 1 and Mar 2 [in Antioquia], projects that are transcendental in the country, are not affected and can continue their course,” he added.

Meanwhile, departmental governments “have the right to tap savings from the Fonpet” -- that is, the National Pension Fund of the Territorial Entities, he added.

The National Federation of Departmental Governments and most departmental governors in Colombia “understood our idea, which is not to take away any resources from territorial entities,” Duque said.

Beyond tapping U.S. Treasury Bonds, Decree 444 also includes “additional measures such as the flexibility of royalty resources, budgets and the use of other collections to meet contingencies and public health measures in each of the regions,” Colombia’s Treasury Ministry added.

“The FOME will, as a loan, employ resources that have been saved in the Savings and Stabilization Fund (FAE) for times like this, as well as the resources of the National Pension Fund of Territorial Entities (FONPET) that will not be required until 2040," according to Treasury.

“Resources will be prioritized to meet the needs of the health sector, through the existing institutional framework, providing them with additional resources of more than COP$6 trillion (US$1.47 billion).

“One of the first expenses [from the fund] will be for buying additional tests to guarantee that the population has access to diagnostic tests, and also an important flow of resources so that our hospitals can increase their installed capacity, especially in intensive and intermediate-care units. Similarly, resources will be used to give additional help to doctors.

“Resources from the General System of Royalties -- to which the territorial entities are entitled at the time that monies are required -- are not committed [permanently]. These resources will be repaid, effective 2023.

“In the case of FONPET, these resources will be repaid in the next 10 years, which guarantees that the territorial entities can continue to comply with the payment of their pension obligations,” the Treasury Ministry concluded.

Page 4 of 17

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.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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