Colombia’s national government is not reserving the money needed for an effective peace process with the FARC, said an economics expert on Tuesday.
Congress is currently debating the 2016 national budget, which is under pressure because of low oil prices that used to secure approximately 20% of government expenses. As a result, Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas is seeking to pass “intelligent austerity” measures.
In the meantime, the government is trying to round up peace talks with the FARC that could result in a peace deal, requiring tens of billions of dollars to effectively implement.
Cardenas stated on Tuesday that there will be a 9% increase in funding to post conflict peace plans in his department’s proposed 2016 budget.
“Of the $210 trillion budget this year, $9.5 trillion (3.2 billion dollars) is earmarked as post-conflict peace resources, and I believe that for the coming year [post-conflict resources] will be 10.4 trillion,” Cardenas was quoted as saying by El Espectador.
However, according to National University economics professor Francesco Bogliacino, “they call it intelligent, but the resources for the post-conflict (period) are not enough.”
The government’s “intelligent austerity” budget will need to face post-conflict social demands such as victim restitution and security concerns surrounding demobilization, expenses not covered in the budget, Bogliacino told the newspaper.
“Taking into account that just in terms of victim restitution the investment is high, and it is important to counter the problems that will be generated after the signing,” the scholar said.
According to Bogliacino, the government is ignoring “an increase in social demands and security issues connected with the demobilizations.”
“There exists a [security] risk associated with the lower ranked people within the guerrilla group who can resort to common crime as happened with the criminal groups” formed after the demobilization of the AUC, Colombia’s largest ever paramilitary organization that laid down its weapons and reintegrated between 2003 and 2006.
For nearly a year, the Colombian Congress’s Peace Commission President, Senator Roy Barreras, has been one of the only members of Congress to put a cost to peace.
According to the key coalition senator, the country must invest at least $30.5 billion (COP90 trillion) to implement a potential peace deal.
Programs to be covered by post conflict funds include reintegration programs and protection for former rebels, victim restitution, the return of displaced populations and land reform among other social programs.