Spruce up ASAP, taxes drop: La Paz says ahead of pope visit

A cable-car travels over La Paz, on October 10, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jorge Bernal)

La Paz (AFP) - Bolivia's capital is gearing up for a papal visit with an unusual idea: a law that would slash La Paz residents' property taxes by 80 percent if they fix up their homes before the pontiff's July trip.

"Homeowners who improve or paint their homes' facades" in the capital would be eligible for the benefit, according to a city statement.

It is aimed at making a special welcome for Pope Francis, who is due in Bolivia July 8, according to city councilman Sergio Siles, who sponsored the law.

La Paz is high in the Andes and has about 766,000 residents. Most Bolivians identify as Roman Catholic.

The pope will kick off his trip in Ecuador on July 6, then travel to Bolivia on July 8 and wrap up his tour in Paraguay from July 10 to 12.

A native of Argentina, Francis visited Portuguese-speaking Brazil in July 2013 but has not returned to Spanish-speaking Latin America since becoming pope.

The three countries on his itinerary are among the smallest and poorest in the region, which is home to more than 425 million Catholics -- nearly 40 percent of the world's Catholic population.