San Andrés asks the Government for attention and special gasoline prices

Everth Hawkins Sjogreen, Governor of San Andrés

It is at least curious that while Cúcuta and Ipiales have special prices for fuel because they are border regions, San Andrés, which borders seven countries, does not have them.

(Read: Several Petro ministers show their objections to the health reform).

The insular department of San Andrés, Santa Catalina and Providencia, has great needs and faces risks, which is why it requests urgent help from the National Government.
Your requirements have been indicated Governor Everth Hawkins Sjogreenin each public scenario where they have given him space, he visited the media, presented his list of needs to the president, Gustavo Petro, at the Governors summit and made his requests again at the Anato summit that ended last week .

In addition, he sent communications to the Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélez, and also to the Minister of Transportation, Guillermo Reyes González.

What do the people of San Andrés ask of the Government?

Being included in the border law, since we have limits with seven different countries. This would allow us the exemption of the VAT tax and the Acpm. In other words, the costs of tanking a plane on the island would be lowered and the costs of energy bills would also be reduced, because we generate with diesel plants.

How is tourism?

Our economy is becoming very difficult for us, since it depends on more than 90 percent of air connectivity, tourism, which reaches us both nationally and internationally. With the gasoline costs we have, we are becoming unviable for the airlines.

Everth Hawkins Sjogreen, Governor of San Andrés


Look, a million-dollar sum has stopped coming to San Andrés due to the significant drop in tourists.

Who can help?

The president, Gustavo Petro, at least part of the solution, to stop the collapse of the economy of the Archipelago.

The problems have deepened due to the reduction in commercial flights due to high fuel costs, significantly affecting tourism. And we are more than 60,000 inhabitants.

But you already spoke with the President…

We are waiting for your answer. I sent a letter to the Minister of Mines, Dr. Irene Vélez, with a copy to the President, to the Minister of Transportation. It is sought that they exonerate us from the payment of global fuel tax and VAT.

(Also: The absurd prices that travelers can find in El Dorado).

It seems quite unusual to us that being the department with the largest borders in Colombia, we are included and not excluded from those taxes that are making the operation of airlines to and from San Andrés very expensive. I know that the President of the Republic is highly sensitive to the Archipelago.

When did the decrease in flights begin?

Since October last year we began to suffer flight cancellations. Today we have 14 fewer flights and some 3,800 people who stop visiting the island daily.

It is a big impact on territorial finances, which we are calculating at $70,000 million. And this is felt in Providencia, because 20% of what we collect goes to Providencia. This has us very concerned and we hope that with the urgent decision of the National Government we can make the route profitable and attractive for the airlines and, above all, also seek to lower the cost of tickets, which are very high.

But the exemption is not new…

The tax issue dates back to 2015, but the aeronautical industry was sustained. What has happened is that the negotiations for the planes were made and planned in dollars when the dollar was at $3,900. Today the dollar is again almost at the top of $5,000.

After the pandemic, the reactivation was going at a very positive moment, but that fluctuation in the dollar had a negative impact on the airlines.

And foreign tourism?

San Andrés continues to be the beautiful archipelago and the best-selling destination in Colombia. We are thinking about tourism in Central America, tourism in North America, which is where we have been weak. With the price of the dollar, it is very cheap for Americans to visit San Andres. That would help us a lot to position the destination.

What are the other problems of San Andrés?

There is a big problem, which is informality, which is very high. It reaches 65 percent. If we manage to formalize them, it would be very important. But we have infrastructure problems that we are solving. We already started with execution projects on roads and platforms, and we started the Aquarium project for its beautification. We are creating a tourist attraction in front of the Estrella del Mar Catholic Church, which is an important tourist corridor.

(Keep reading: Café del Mar abandons the Baluarte de Santo Domingo in Cartagena).

What are the priorities for the rest of the year?

We are headed for economic recovery. In the recovery of roads and in the hospital, we turned it into a State Social Enterprise. There is also the Equestrian Cultural Center, which is part of our cultural traditions. We are also investing in high-impact infrastructure works, which has not happened in San Andrés for years due to the abandonment of many works that we have inherited and the loss of advances. I must emphasize that of the own resources with which we are contracting, which exceed 180,000 million pesos, we have not given a single peso in advance, which guarantees that the work is done quickly, with quality and without risking public assets.

What about the migration issue of people arriving from the continent?

There are some drawbacks, especially with Venezuelans who have chosen the destination to go up to Central America and seek the long-awaited American dream. The control that is done is not as effective. The problem is that flow of Venezuelans who are staying on the island.


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Written by Editor TLN

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