The trip made a month ago by three senior EPM executives to the United Arab Emirates to participate in Expo Dubai, one of the most important trade and business showcases in the world, left a trail of doubts about the relevance, motives and achievements of the visit. The questions came from Sinpro, the majority union of employees of the company, which considers that an unnecessary expense was made and that the visit has accents of improvisation.
The trip took place from February 5 to 13, and the commission was made up of Vice President of Communications and Corporate Relations, Mábel López Segura; Executive Vice President of New Business, Innovation and Technology, Darío Amar Flórez; and the head of external relations, Fabio Marín Guerra. The union’s suspicions relate to the information that the same company provided in this regard, when there would be no clarity in any real planning of the trip.
In reality, The company acknowledged, in response to a right of petition from the union, that it does not have minutes showing that the board or board, management and central committees assessed, reviewed or approved the exploration, operation or growth of EPM in the United Arab Emirates and other Arab or Asian countries.
For Olga Arango, president of Sinpro, this answer highlights a sensitive issue, since the trip would not have been considered by the board of directors or any works council, especially when public resources were spent. He also wonders about the fact that a person with a more technical profile did not attend.
The nine days of visits cost nearly $80 million for the three people, which are paid for with public resources. The tickets had a value of $58,470,029; food, transportation and maintenance of the place cost about $11,320,000; and the accommodation had a total cost of $10,170,000, considering the dollar exchange rate at that time.
Block the sale of water?
During the time the delegation was abroad, the company released three statements. On February 9, they reported that EPM was strengthening itself as a “bulwark in building the world’s cities of the future” and said that at the Dubai fair, company representatives met with Othman O. Hamdan, spokesperson for the ministry. investments from Saudi Arabia.
They discussed with him the potential of EPM to develop business in the Asian country, as water desalination, bulk water sales and wastewater treatment, thanks to which, Amar Flórez announced, they were able to “become a major utility operator in several Asian countries”.
A day later, another statement referred to the meeting between the EPM delegation and Jaime Amín Hernández, Colombian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, who argued that this country could be a strategic partner for the company from Antioquia; He even offered his support to explore investment opportunities for Colombia in the United Arab Emirates. In the third communication, on February 11, according to EPM On the last day of the mission in this country, they indicated having found a set of “business opportunities as a potential supplier of water services for Arab countries”.
On February 18, in response to a right of petition to Sinpro, EPM indicated that the trip was aimed at establishing links and future possibilities for alliances with leaders of companies, technologies, states and investors. in the world “which could favor at some point the accomplishment of the strategic management of the group of activities.
Given the scant information provided, which the union also considers pure rhetoric,” they asked for clarification. The responses also failed to dispel doubts about whether the $80 million should be spent on the visit. In the response, on March 8, the reasons mentioned by the company remained mainly in the exploration of possible future alliances, nothing concrete for the moment. But, it should be noted that they reported that in the company there is no document on a study of the attractiveness of the market of the United Arab Emirates or other Arab and Asian countries, or a matrix of risks in said region.
For the union, it is strange that the 2022-2025 business plan does not consider EPM’s interest in the United Arab Emirates or other Arab and/or Asian countries. In addition, EPM has acknowledged that it does not have studies on the financial capacity reserved for growth in the said countries, these only being done if a possibility of a project or alliance arises there. ‘coming.
Since March 14, EL COLOMBIANO has requested clarification from EPM on this subject, but it has not been possible to obtain an answer, despite the fact that on that day they requested that a questionnaire be sent by email.
In any case, the trip has already been made, even if for the union it was made without a clear objective and it was a significant expense, even if it was not supported by a documented evaluation by the board of directors concerning the arrival of EPM on new markets .