JOSÉ GABRIEL MARTÍNEZ CASTRO

Ecuador 2020 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

By encouraging greater private-sector investment in the transport sector, MOTP seeks to improve the country's overall connectivity and boost economic development.

José Gabriel Martínez Castro
BIOGRAPHY

José Gabriel Martínez Castro received his BA from the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil in economics and finance and his MBA from the IDE Business School in the government and political leadership program. In his career in the private sector, he has managed important institutions such as Guayaquil's Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of the Graphics Industry. In the public sector, he has served as general secretary of Ecuador's vice presidency, where he handled political, social, and strategic areas of the office. In 2019, he was appointed substitute Minister in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works (MTOP) after being appointed vice minister earlier.

What economic impact can be expected by improving international and domestic connectivity in Ecuador?

The effect of increasing air connectivity can be seen directly in the domestic and international tourism sector and in the foreign trade indexes. These are activities that generate important production chains and are priority to reduce the country's economic dependence on traditional products like oil.

What factors have contributed to making Ecuador a more attractive market for international airlines?

The policy of open skies, implemented by President Lenín Moreno, sends a clear message to the world that we are providing legal security for investments, specifically for commercial aviation, and demonstrating that we are a country with many things to offer. Through this initiative, we are turning ourselves into strategic partners for airlines that want to obtain a sustainable operation in the country. MTOP is the director of the air policy in the country working to offer all airline operators the possibility of participating in the market. As for new operations for 2020, we plan to include two new international airlines whose names will be announced soon. We have also been able to add seven new airlines to operate international flights, including Spirit, Gol, Laser, AirFrance, Plus Ultra, Intejet, and AirCanada, as well as others already operating in the country and have increased their flights, such as Latam and Jetblue.

What role can the private sector play in maintaining a high level of the road infrastructure in the country?

Once all the necessary investments are carried out to prepare the road infrastructure, the state will require a private manager to efficiently execute the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure accordingly to its cost-risk through a public-private partnership and a concession. Under this scheme, the private sector plays an important role, which is why MTOP has worked in a portfolio of possible projects that are attractive for private companies and will allow the state to guarantee the use of the country's roads.

What infrastructure projects are in the works?

MTOP is seeking to ensure connectivity through the implementation of models of administration in the roads and giving priority to investments in the road infrastructure. We were able to enlarge the state road network (RVE) from 9,800km to 10,160km. Our work now is to give priority to the different road infrastructure based on the needs being established through different time periods; this means it is true that there is excellent connectivity, though we still invest in expansion projects for those areas that are required. As an example, one of the most important links in the country is the Quito-Guayaquil road, which has two lanes and faces traffic congestion at times. Another area we are working on is the expansion of the Guayaquil-Machala road. These are being developed under a concession model that seeks public-private participation of projects requiring large investments. The participation of the private sector is important because that allows us to seize the experience and capacity of the financing to provide services traditionally were provided by the public sector. Additionally, we invest in reducing the number of accidents via financing from CAF and a USD215-million investment to implement the modality of maintenance per results. This project envisions a year of mandatory works and maintenance at a fixed cost for a total of five years to execute the projects in seven different areas that collectively total 1,200km.

What level of public investment in infrastructure can be achieved in the next years?

MTOP seeks the participation of the private sector to reduce pressure on the budget and allow private investment, while also guaranteeing a safe service for users and contributing to the social and economic development of the country. Through the implementation of this management model, we can introduce technology and innovation to improve the quality of the public services through an operative efficiency.