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Mauricio Santa Maria, Colombia
Former Planning Minister

Mauricio Santa María is one of Colombia’s foremost public policy authorities, specializing in social welfare, income and labor issues, and infrastructure development. Over a career spanning decades, he has been a catalyst of progress and reform at the highest levels of policy making, involved in all aspects of policy formulation and implementation, including budgeting, congressional approval and program assessment.

Based in Bogota, Dr. Santa María is a senior partner of Econcept, a financial consulting firm. He is also one of GlobalSource Partners’ economic advisors in Colombia.

As Planning Minister under President Juan Manuel Santos, Dr. Santa María was responsible for formulating the country’s economic and social policy as well as proposing the country’s infrastructure investment budget. He designed and spearheaded the recent congressional reform of the system for collecting and distributing royalties from the country’s natural resources (SGR). He further coordinated with Congress to pass multibillion dollar infrastructure budgets as well as advance policies related to housing, road construction and water provision. In other positions in the Planning Department, he led the research and design of strategies to increase Colombia’s competitiveness and participated in the negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. He also took part in the structure, negotiation and finalization of the major reforms of the early 2000’s, including labor and pension reform.

Prior to his service as Planning Minister, he served as Social Protection Minister, in charge of the formulation and execution of public policy related to health, pensions, and the labor market. He was a key proponent of the recent initiatives in the health sector to improve the function and finances of the sector, unify the contributory and subsidized system plans, and widen care to include vaccines and other treatments. He also advanced the creation, approval and implementation of laws to facilitate formal employment by increasing benefits and lowering the costs of formalization for business start-ups.

At the World Bank he was Senior Economist in the Poverty Assessment Group for Latin America and the Caribbean, in charge of projects related to the development of labor and employment progress in Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina. He managed loan projects in Mexico and in Colombia, where he worked on reducing the vulnerability of the poor to the armed conflict.

Dr. Santa María has been a board member of institutions including Ecopetrol, the FEN, Colpensiones, CONPES, the Comisión Rectora de Regalías and CREG.

Dr. Santa María has written extensively on Colombia’s labor market, on unemployment, informality, income, productivity and reform. He has also written on health service delivery and outcomes, health care reform, and tax policy in Colombia. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Georgetown University and an undergraduate degree in economics from the Universidad de los Andes.