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Bolivian Congress Approves Energy Legislation

The Bolivian Congress has approved legislation that increases taxes on foreign oil companies operating in the country.

Lawmakers in La Paz Thursday approved the bill, which now heads to President Carlos Mesa. The president, who has previously voiced his opposition to provisions in the bill, has 10 days to sign or veto the measure.

The legislation creates a 32 percent tax on the companies in addition to an existing 18 percent royalty they already pay.

President Mesa wants to open the energy sector to more foreign investment, and has said tax increases will drive away those investors.

Anti-government demonstrators recently held protests to demand higher taxes on the companies. The protesters said opening the energy sector to more foreign firms will lead to looting of Bolivia's natural wealth.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.