The announcement by the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, to take the powers of administration and control of public services such as water, electricity and telecommunications tosupported by article 370 of the Constitution and article 68 of Law 142 of 1994, despite being supported by law, causing great controversy due to its effects on the market.
According to Camilo Sánchez, president of the National Association of Public Services and Communications Companies (Andesco), institutionality cannot be done away with, much less ignore key technical aspects in setting energy rates and other public services, since this can have serious consequences going forward.
Without referring specifically to what Law 142 states, Sánchez pointed out that «The worst thing that can be done (President Petro) is to make dictatorial decisions that are not in light of the legal”.
And he added that a possible price control «would be an unprecedented setback for the country» and that the economic law of supply and demand would fail. “These non-technical political positions can push more bullish effects,” says Sánchez.
And he adds: «It is necessary that all generation projects under development come into operation soon and advance in the auction of the announced reliability charge, for new plants that will cover a possible energy deficit from 2026”.
For the manager, the sector is regulated with a strong institutional framework that respects contractual agreements, providing legal certainty, making it solid and reliable”.
In addition, he pointed out that “it would be unfortunate to fall into unilateral decisions that will affect the service and that could cause blackouts in some regions. Let’s remember that the most expensive energy is the one you don’t have”.
On the other hand, Superservicios, in a concept signed by the superintendent Dagoberto Quiroga, stated that the President has constitutional and legal powers to directly assume tariff regulation powers.
«The President of the Republic can assume directly, via decree and in a constitutional manner, the competence to regulate the rates for home public services in order to reduce costs with a direct impact on citizens, under the protection of the numerals 11 and 22 of article 189 and articles 211, 365 and 370 of the Political Constitution and articles 68 and 124 to 127 of Law 142 of 1994”, he says.
In the same way, the superintendent made reference to a sentence of the State Council on the regulation activity in charge of the State, assuring that regulation is a state activity that promotes competition in those areas where it exists and is feasible; “abuse prevents natural monopoly positions, where this is inescapable; deregulate to eliminate artificial barriers to competition and, finally, calibrate the various areas of a service to prevent discriminatory or unfair practices for the competitor”.
Petro pointed out that it does so based on the law and the users, and it is not the first time that he has warned that he wants that control.
Although last time, on September 9, he said it during the annual Andesco congress and for this, it based its intention on article 290 of the law of the National Development Plan 2018-2022.
“I am going to assume control, the general administration policies of Colombia, directly and personally, based on what the law itself says: first, the general interest and the user”, explained the president last Thursday in Duitama.
For his part, the executive director of the National Association of Power Generation Companies (Andeg), Alejandro Castañeda, stated that this announcement jeopardizes the confidence that regulation has generated for investments to be made in the sector, «already that companies invest in generation because they trust and believe in regulation. Therefore, decisions like the ones that Petro intends to make can stop these resources”.
Castañeda is emphatic that although the Government is empowered, it is in charge of managing surveillance and control of public services, but that the separation of roles is developed and implemented in the electricity law and also in the public services law of 1994 in the state.
«The governments that have taken control have done so for a specific issue, such as definitions in operation or prices on the Caribbean coast, but the effect of the President’s idea It seems to be a regression and all its effects would not be known yet”, he pointed out.
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Article 68 of Law 142 on which Gustavo Petro relies to adjust rates