On May 14, 2018, the Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and the Minister of the Economy José Ramón Valente announced: (i) that a bill would be sent to the Chilean legislature to promote the government’s “Pro-Investment Agenda” (the “Bill”); and (ii) that the government will create a Chilean Sustainability Project Management Office (“OGPS”).

Both initiatives aim to speed up bureaucratic procedures to approve investment projects and to foster legal certainty surrounding the authorities’ criteria when assessing such undertakings.

Pro-investment agenda

The bill contains measures to simplify and streamline public approval of major investment projects. By amending legislation in a number of areas, the measures will affect both projects pending approval (203 cases) and new investment projects in Chile.

Among other important measures, the bill will:

  • Allow maritime concession rights to be used as security collateral, facilitating funding for future projects by a number of different entities.
  • Regulate temporary suspension of new works, given that projects are often halted due to ungrounded claims.
  • Allow independent reviewers to also inspect project works to clear up backlogs at public authorities.
  • Allow different sources of contamination to be specified in prevention and decontamination plans so that the pertinent mitigation measures can be applied. This will expedite approval of projects with low contamination indexes and allow mitigation measures to be implemented more efficiently and simply.
  • Create an administrative procedure to allow interested parties to request and obtain a preliminary ruling from the relevant public authority as to whether projects require an environmental impact study.
  • Centralize the granting of sector permits at the environmental regulator SEA instead of at various bodies, thereby avoiding contradictions and delays in permitting processes.
  • Remove SEA’s obligation to rule on certain services when there are no grounds or when they fall outside the regulator’s authority.
  • Bring greater technology into certain procedures by creating online processing with the municipals works department, building a digital platform for handling all presentations related with water use rights, and allowing the national mining service SERNAGEOMIN to keep an updated list of mining concessions through publications in the official mining gazettes.

Sustainability projects management office

The government has created the OGPS to boost institutional efforts to support investments. The office’s main tasks will be to coordinate the different government bodies and to streamline project approvals in Chile, thereby ensuring that the statutory periods are complied with and that the permit and licensing process is transparent. The OGPS’s first challenge will be to streamline approval of projects currently in the pipeline and that are pending approval by the authorities. The OGPS posts a list of investment project on its website.