How have FCC's operations in Colombia progressed in the past year?
Regarding the Toyo tunnel in Antioquia, we have completed all the construction designs and have received the environmental licensing in December 2017. The Salitre wastewater treatment plant project, meanwhile, is funded by the World Bank, and we are working on the design and construction plans now. We are working on the foundation of the plant and the design phase, which we will finish in September. While we work on the design phase, we are also preparing for construction. For this project, we have a five-year contract, with one year projected for design. Currently, we are about three and a half years into building, and then it will be another six months of development. In Colombia, we are selective with our projects and try to choose ones that we can better contribute our time and resources. We have a few projects that we are working on right now, though these are symbolic and large projects. We are interested in the recovery project for the navigability of the Magdalena River, the subway project in Bogotá, and the Canoas wastewater plant, which will be twice as large as the Salitre plant.
FCC has extensive expertise in metro projects around the world. What role will FCC play in the construction of Metro de Bogotá?
Bogotá has two significant problems: mobility and water treatment. Not addressing water treatment would be a problem. 75% of wastewater is disposed of directly into the river without any form of treatment. Regarding mobility in Bogotá, it is essential to have a massive transport system to help regulate the rest of the modalities that exist in the city. Having an overland subway in Bogotá could have an impact and would be similar to the TransMilenio concept. In this regard, we hired a team that is doing studies and designs. City Hall and the subway company of Bogotá will launch the tender before May 2018; 70% of this project is financed through national resources and 30% through local resources. The analysis of the presentation of offers will be seen in the second half of 2018, and the allocation will be decided at the end of 2018 or start of 2019.
Are you looking to expand?
We are executing projects in Canada, the US, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. We are interested in Uruguay and perhaps Paraguay, though we are still analyzing the cases. Any activity in the company involves many resources. Profitability must be constant since it is the only way to make a business sustainable.
What legal change would you like to have in your industry?
I would like to have a reduction of the tax burden; Colombia has one of the highest tax burdens compared to other countries, and it hurts the economy and its competitiveness.
What are the main benefits and challenges of doing business in Colombia?
What we like about doing business in Colombia is that it has great needs, which we can address and create a large impact on. We like to focus our projects in Colombia better than in other countries because we can help enhance its development. We see great opportunities in Colombia, such as working on water treatment facilities, improving drinking water, and purifying sewage; helping communities and being a strong part of the community is exciting for us. In terms of challenges, as we are a foreign company, we would like to be recognized as a national company to help them better see us as contributors to development.