On Wednesday, during a one day visit to Peru, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new aid package aimed in part at helping regional governments more effectively reinvest taxes and royalties from mining in programs to alleviate poverty.
During the first official visit to Peru by a Canadian prime minister, Harper met with executives from Canadian mining companies before meeting with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala to reveal the new $53 billion aid package. The package, which more than doubles Canada’s aid to the Andean country, includes funds to develop mechanisms to more efficiently and transparently allocate the $4 billion regional governments have amassed in unspent royalties.
Humala, who campaigned on a platform of social inclusion and poverty eradication, imposed the mining royalties as part of that commitment. But that money lies idle in government bank accounts, while half of Peru’s rural population continues to live below the poverty line and violent anti-mining protests have sprung up.
Canada has a large presence in Peru’s mining sector. Currently 75 Canadian mining companies are engaged in gold, silver or copper exploration throughout Peru.
Canada’s increased investment in Peru is part of a broader initiative rolled out by the Canadian government in fall 2012 to ensure that Canada’s federal spending goes toward efforts that boost the country’s commercial interests and to encourage investment in socially and environmentally responsible industries.