Bolivian President to Present Hydrocarbons Law Feb. 10

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Bolivia's President Carlos Mesa could present the new hydrocarbons law to congress on Tuesday (Feb.10), a spokesperson at the hydrocarbons ministry told BNamericas.

Mesa had planned to present the law to congress during the week February 2-6 but delayed doing so while his legal team studied aspects of the law, especially the issue of the new tax on hydrocarbons production, known as the Impuesto Complementario a los Hidrocarburos (ICH), the spokesperson said. "It's a very complicated law which has been developed quickly in little more than two months, so it should be carefully revised - that's why the President has taken a few more days to present the law to congress," the spokesperson said.

Mesa "is studying the balance of the law in terms of the private companies and the taxes they have to pay the state." However, the details of any changes to the ICH or other aspects of the law will not be known until the President actually presents the law to congress, the spokesperson added. Congress will take about 30 days to study the bill before deciding whether to approve it.

The idea is for the law to be enacted before a national referendum on the gas export project takes place at the end of April. The ICH, which will be in addition to existing royalties of 18%, is the lynch pin of the new law, which is designed to increase revenues for the government from hydrocarbons production without scaring off private investment. The ICH has a ceiling of 32%, which would bring total taxes to 50%, but it is a "progressive" tax that depends on the volume of production on any given field.

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