Raising Colombia’s 2012 budget ‘unreasonable’: Finance minister

Colombia’s finance minister said it is “not reasonable” to raise the national budget for 2012, set to be $92.2 billion, newspaper El Espectador reported Wednesday.

Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry said in the face of turbulence in international markets and a possible recession, which would affect the economies of the principal developed countries of the world, Colombia’s national budget would remain at its current level.

“I do not think it [raising the amount] is reasonable because we are entering a phase of uncertainty in the world economy so I prefer to go with an amount that is payable, that is consistent with income tax and consistent with not pressuring the debt markets at any time,” said Juan Carlos Echeverry.

“At the moment, we are exaggerating the pessimistic outlook. When there is bad news, we expect everything to go wrong,” said Echeverry, responding to criticism that different professional associations have made about the insufficient protection the Colombian economy has against external shocks.

He called for caution while waiting to see what happens in the U.S. and Europe. The finance minister said, “I don’t think there is going to be a recession like the one we had in 2007-2008. Colombia has sound economic credentials … we can shield ourselves from blows that come from outside.”

Echeverry also warns against issuing expensive laws. “This is a message to Congress and to ministers, we have to be very cautious when expediting laws, that we are certain that resources are going to be available.”

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