Reuters International

A boy writes a message about peace on a banner as people celebrate the signing of a historic ceasefire deal between the Colombian government and FARC rebels in Bogota, Colombia, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/John Vizcaino

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia will offer tax incentives to companies that get involved in infrastructure and social service projects in areas left underdeveloped or scarred by the country's 50-year armed conflict, a government official said.

The government and leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebels, signed a landmark ceasefire agreement in Havana this week, clearing the way for a final peace accord as soon as next month.

Rafael Pardo, a veteran politician, was appointed by President Juan Manuel Santos as the country's post-conflict minister last year. In comments to Reuters, late on Friday, he said the tax plan will take effect once the final peace deal is in place.

The plan was designed to lure more private sector companies into the construction of roads, water and sanitation systems, along with schools, health centres and other projects, he said.

"Companies can choose to do these projects and the cost of the project will be deducted from their taxes," he said.

"For the state it's a neutral process," Pardo added. "It means doing projects probably more quickly and in a more efficient way and for the companies it is a benefit in the sense that they want to have a presence in a certain region."

He did not elaborate, except to say that the post-conflict tax policy could help job creation.

Pardo is a close ally of Santos, who has said the end of Latin America's longest-running conflict will add as much as one percentage point to Colombia's economic growth per year.

(Reporting by Monica Garcia and Nelson Bocanegra, writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Tom Brown)

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