Colombia’s Congress approves the allocation of funds for the 2011 government budget at some COP147.3 trillion ($81.3 billion).
Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry called the budget “austere.”
The Conservative Party‘s spokesman in the Senate, Germain Villegas, said that 95% of the budget has been “predetermined,” and that members of Congress from around the country have been laying claim to more resources and funds for their regions.
Villegas said that the budget has a deficit of COP24 trillion, which is expected to offset by an increase in domestic and external debt. The senator added that the government has promised tax reform.
Polo Democratico Senator Jorge Robledo criticized the way the debate is being handled, saying that there has been no time to tackle the issue of the fiscal deficit.
The 2011 budget includes COP35.3 trillion for debt repayment, COP22.2 trillion for defense, and COP21.2 trillion for education.
In September Congress’ economic commissions approved additions worth COP4 trillion made to the budget put forward by the Finance Ministry. Of this, COP3.17 trillion ($760.4 million) will be invested in the government’s “locomotives” of development; housing, infrastructure, mining, agriculture and innovation. President Juan Manuel Santos has set out his plans to increase investment in these areas, in order to achieve “democratic prosperity” for Colombia.