Cusco authorities are calling for a regional strike, giving the government 72 hours to come up with a solution to the sudden postponement of the groundbreaking ceremony for the new airport at Chinchero. People from Urubamba, Paucartambo, Anta and La Convención marched with banners to the Chinchero site to protest.
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was scheduled to fly to Cusco Tuesday to lay the first stone for the project, but cancelled his trip when Congress questioned the changes in the concession contract’s financial details.
The concession contract was signed during President Ollanta Humala’s administration with the Kuntur Wasi consortium, but financing details were changed and included in the addenda under the new administration. Namely, to save more than $590 mn in interest payments, the government agreed to put up the initial $265 mn to get the project moving instead of Kuntur Wasi borrowing that amount from the banks. That would mean that the project would be a state-financed project rather than a public-private partnership, but Kuntur Wasi would continue to have the operating concession for 30 years.
“We have a lack of liquidity, but that is not the problem,” said Carlos Vargas, president of Kuntur Wasi, who blames ProInversion for the poor terms set up in the contract.
The Chinchero airport has its detractors for many reasons (see Chinchero —Lost in the Clouds), but the project has been on the drawing board for close to 40 years and its political significance among Cusco authorities and local real estate investorss is great.
“We’re going ahead with this project,” President Kuczynski said on Monday, once the addenda are rewritten.