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Bolivia to audit foreign energy firms

June 28, 2005 at 1:35 PM

LA PAZ, Bolivia, June 28 (UPI) -- Bolivia will begin auditing foreign oil and gas companies operating in the country and will increase taxes on the operations.

The office of the president issued a statement saying Bolivia "wants to substantially improve its control over hydrocarbon production" and is planning to raise taxes on foreign companies, La Razon reported Tuesday.

Last month Bolivia raised taxes and tariffs on foreign petroleum companies to 50 percent, up from 18 percent.

The May increase came amid widespread protests calling for the nationalization of Bolivia's gas industry. For weeks protesters clogged the streets of major cities grinding Bolivia to a halt.

The increase in taxes didn't dissuade protesters who called for the resignation of then-President Carlos Mesa. The president stepped down earlier this month.

Supreme Court President Eduardo Rodriguez assumed the presidency after a special session of Congress appointed him Bolivia's next leader.

Elections were then moved ahead to December of this year, prompting protesters to end their campaign for the time being.

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