On the region’s growth potential
What are the department’s plans for the short to medium term?
CARLOS EDUARDO OSORIO BURITICÁ: Since 2016 we have been pursuing a number of policies within the department’s development plan that aim to empower the region’s economy, improve our competitiveness, attract investment and raise the community’s social wellbeing. After going through a number of years characterised by corruption scandals, misuse of public funds and stagnation, the region has entered a new chapter in its development, as it seeks to make use of its natural and human capital, improve transparency and bolster its economy.
Our objectives are aligned with five primary strategies, which are good governance, sustainable development, prosperity through equity, social inclusion and human security. Each strategy includes a number of programmes aimed at supporting private sector development within a framework that is coherent with our region’s culture and natural resources. For example, we aim to develop an eco-friendly tourism industry that makes use of our landscapes and heritage, an agriculture sector that is protective of the environment and a services industry that provides well-paying jobs for our youth.
Moreover, we have implemented bilingual programmes in rural schools to give students the necessary tools to participate in a globalised world, and we have strengthened our health care facilities to enable quality care for our citizens. In the medium term we hope to consolidate our achievements in this regard, while looking outward to position our department as an important piece in Colombia’s development.
In what ways is Quindío an attractive place for investors?
OSORIO: Since the creation of the Armenian investment agency, Invest in Armenia, we have developed a road map of investment opportunities in the region, taking into consideration our strengths and competitive advantages. In less than two years we have successfully attracted a number of companies within the sectors we consider priorities, such as tourism, software and technology development, agro-industry and logistics. These sectors provide strong growth prospects as they make use of our geographical location, natural resources and labour availability. Our strategic position at the centre of Colombia’s “golden triangle” puts us within close proximity to 56% of the country’s population, 61% of its GDP, 76% of its manufacturing industry, 75% of trade and 73% of its services industry, as well as to major ports, airports and economic centres, such as Bogotá, Cali and Medellín. The anticipated La Línea highway tunnel will make Armenia the epicentre for all trade arriving at the country’s largest port, Port of Buenaventura, exponentially increasing our role in domestic and international trade.
Furthermore, in terms of the regulatory environment, Quindío is ranked among Colombia’s top-10 departments in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report, including being second in terms of ease of starting a business and taxation – two elements critical for investment. The administration has also been moving forward with a number of initiatives aimed at consolidating our achievements, such as the creation of a single window for investment, improving education, promoting bilingualism and more. As the second-smallest department in Colombia, we have taken a laissez-faire approach to private investment; however, we seek to provide as much freedom as possible to operators, while also offering the necessary support to make their investments easy and transparent.
How does Quindío’s current strategy fit within the national government’s outlook?
OSORIO: The department’s strategy is indeed in line with a number of initiatives and policies spearheaded by the national government, including diversification, tourism, and reducing administrative hurdles and taxation pressure, among others. As part of the “coffee axis”, Quindío is considered by the administration as a strategic region for globalisation, and as such will be at the centre of the government’s strategy to boost exports and develop the country’s international presence through improvements in infrastructure and logistics, and the strengthening of our free trade area model.
In line with the government’s policies, the department’s Regional Competitiveness Commission is cooperating with national entities to boost Quindío’s competitiveness, improve governance, bolster integration, and generate more and better opportunities across regions.