ALBERTO CARRASQUILLA was Minister of Finance under President Uribe (2003-2007) and under President Ivan Duque from 2018 to May 2021. This former finance minister privatized the water supply service, draining funds from already poor municipalities for his own private companies. In April 2021, he presented an obscene tax reform bill, contested from all sides. Because of all this, the Colombian state decided to reward him by nominating him for the presidency of the Development Bank of Latin America...
On April 15, 2021, Alberto Carrasquilla, then Minister of Finance of Colombia, proposed a tax reform project that set off the biggest protest movement in the country's recent history. On April 28, a national general strike was called in Colombia because of the proposed reform. Under the pressure of the mobilizations, the minister was forced to resign and the Colombian government was forced to withdraw its tax reform project.
But a week before presenting the tax reform bill, the Colombian government nominated Alberto Carrasquilla for the position of president of the Development Bank of Latin America. To justify the candidacy, the Colombian government said that Minister Alberto Carrasquilla had demonstrated exemplary conduct in his management of the economy twice over. Who signed the letter endorsing Carrasquilla's candidacy for the Development Bank of Latin America? His replacement! The newly appointed Minister of Finance, José Manuel Restrepo, who was Minister of Trade until May 3, 2021.
What is the "evidence of exemplary conduct" of Carrasquilla that the Colombian government refers to?
The first refers to Alberto Carrasquilla's first term as Minister of Finance under the government of Alvaro Uribe Vélez from 2003 to 2007. As a government of exemplary conduct, it is worth remembering that during this time, Carrasquilla used his time in the ministry to create the "water bonds" (bonos del aqua) also known as Carrasquilla bonds, which aimed to privatize water services. The bonds, which were used between 2008 and 2011, allowed municipalities to take on 19 years of debt from private companies to provide water and sanitation services. No viability study was required, interest rates were usurious and the whole process was opaque. When the indebted municipalities were unable to continue paying, the government came to the rescue to pay the debt to the companies (no need for a national strike to help the companies not lose their money!). What's worse is that in 73 of the 108 "beneficiary" municipalities, the debt incurred by these bonds was not used to improve service delivery, but rather fuelled corruption.
In short, the bonds were used as a mechanism to drain public funds from municipalities. But that is not all. The bonds allowed Alberto Carrasquilla to enrich himself personally. He literally benefited from the poverty of the municipalities, the lack of government oversight and the process of privatization and corruption that he himself designed. The two companies that have captured municipal and state funds are Alianza Fiduciaria, of which Carrasquilla was an advisor, and Konfigura Capital, which he founded. The company Konfigura, with the help of tax maneuvers related to the "bonos del agua", has grown in just two years from a financial asset of 5 million pesos in 2008 to a total asset of almost 1,352 million pesos in 2010. In total, Konfigura has recorded revenues of 29,300 million pesos, as well as profits of 3,300 million pesos, during the existence of the "bonos del agua"
The second "proof of exemplary conduct" of Alberto Carrasquilla referred to by the Colombian government is related to his most recent term (2018-2021) as Minister of Finance in the government of Ivan Duque, a term that ended with the tax reform project that triggered the mobilizations that have already lasted two weeks.