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Peru's Obras por Impuestos scheme now available for heritage conservation
Interior view of the historic Chapel of the Virgen Purificada de Canicunca. Photo: World Monuments Fund.

LIMA.- The historic Chapel of the Virgen Purificada de Canicunca, located in the district of Huaro, Quispicanchi Province (Cusco), will regain its splendor thanks to a public-private partnership under the legal mechanism “Obras por Impuestos,” or projects in lieu of taxes. The initiative, promoted by Backus and World Monuments Fund, proposes a new funding model to rehabilitate Peru’s cultural heritage. The mechanism has been embraced by the Ministry of Culture, which approved the procedure in strict compliance with the Law of Protection of Cultural Heritage.

The initiative was formalized with the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Culture and the Regional Government of Cusco, which allows for the restoration of the chapel, part of the National Cultural Heritage. This work will materialize after the Regional Council prioritizes the project and carries out a public bid, in which Backus has expressed its intention to participate in partnership with WMF.

The Virgen Purificada de Canincunca Chapel is a monument that was declared as a National Cultural Heritage site under the Supreme Resolution No. 505-1974-ED, dated November 14, 1974. The chapel is property of the Archdiocese of Cusco and is administered by the Compañía de Jesús. It is part of the Andean Baroque Route, which also includes churches in Andahuaylillas and Huaro, buildings that were also conserved with the support of WMF.

The comprehensive restoration project consists of the rehabilitation of the adjacent parish house, the conservation of the church’s façade, walls, floors, altar, woodwork, electrical installations, murals, and sculptures. The investment amount will be 2.5 million soles.

Carlos Silva Canessa, parish priest of Andahuaylillas and Huaro, stated: "The Andean Baroque Route, promoted by the Compañia de Jesús, is dedicated to the diffusion of the region’s cultural heritage through the restoration and preservation of the churches of Andahuaylillas, Huaro, Canincunca, and Compañia de Jesús in Cusco. The restoration of the Virgen Purificada de Canincunca Chapel will consolidate this beautiful path where heaven and earth were made art; and thus contribute to the development of tourism in the area to generate employment opportunities for the community".

Diana Álvarez Calderón, Minister of Culture, congratulated the promoters of this initiative, stating: "Public-private partnerships like this are evidence of the important role the private sector can play in the complex task of caring and redeveloping our vast cultural heritage. This is not an exclusive task of the state, but one that must involve all Peruvians."

Obras por Impuestos, law 29230, was created to reduce the infrastructure gap in the country and promote private investment. The projects under this investment scheme allow for a number of benefits, including the lightening of the management and administrative burden of the local and regional governments, creating strategic alliances with these authorities, and allowing private enterprises to determine the application of their taxes to benefit directly the communities where they operate.

Felipe Cantuarias, Vice President of Corporate Affairs of Backus, stated: "We were the first company to perform a work under the legal mechanism Obras por Impuestos, and now we want to innovate by investing 2.5 million soles in the restoration of the Chapel of Canincunca, which will contribute to economic, social, and tourism development in the southern area of Cusco Valley.”

Mario Testino, President of WMF Peru, stated: "Our mission is to save heritage in a sustainable way, transforming it into an engine of development to benefit local communities. So we are very pleased to have been able to promote a more attractive way of financing, Obras por Impuestos. And it's great being able to apply this new model at the Chapel of Canincunca as it will continue the development of the Andean Baroque Route. I hope that from this initiative other companies, besides Backus, get motivated to support, together with WMF Peru, the recovery of our heritage."

Finally, René Concha Lezama, President of the Regional Government of Cusco stated: “This agreement benefits all residents of Huaro district and it will help to boost the tourism sector. At the same time, for the Regional Government this is a clear sign that public-private partnerships can generate development for the region. We are confident that there will be many companies that will follow this example and our administration will be willing to support similar initiatives.”

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