Friday, September 5, 2014

Colombia: Capital 2012 Rubbish Crisis Results in Liable Fines $42 Million by Mayor Petro, Officials

According to The Latin American Tribune, two years after a change in the garbage collection system resulted in tons of uncollected refuse clogging the streets of Bogotá, Mayor Gustavo Petro and a host of other officials have been ordered to pay fines totaling $42 million. 

In a statement released on Thursday (September 4), competition authorities ratified the fine imposed earlier this year stemming from the change in the city's collection of solid waste in 2012 from private to public operators and which encouraged rubbish recycling.

Chaos ensued after the changes were made in December of that year, with neither the private collection service nor the new public operators picking up the trash, resulting in mountains stinking waste blocking streets and causing a public health hazard.

Colombian officials launched an investigation, resulting in Petro's dismissal, although he was later reinstated in office as a result of a court order.

In their statement on the fines, the competition authorities said the changeover violated free-market practices.

In addition, the authorities ordered the immediate suspension of any conduct "designed to block or limit the participation of competitors in the market," and gave city hall six months to implement a new regime of free competition.

COMMENT: Under the order, ten city officials are to pay a penalty of $800,000, of which $213,000 is to be paid by Mayor Petro.

"My personal wealth is finished," Petro complained on his Twitter account.

City environment secretary Susana Muhamed argued that the garbage collection model imposed by Mayor Petro conformed to the Constitution and was legal.

In addition, the authorities ordered the immediate suspension of any conduct "designed to block or limit the participation of competitors in the market" and gave city hall six months to implement a new regime of free competition.