Colombia’s Congress on Wednesday passed a $9 billion budget for the fiscal year stretching from 2013 to 2014.
A Wednesday press release from the Ministry of Finance Finance stated that the budget “aims to strengthen decentralization and ensure transformative projects for Colombia.”
“This is the result of months of work, many hours of dedication…[to] further strengthen decentralization, but at the same time we ensure that projects are done…which will…help Colombia improve in terms of growth, education [and] economic capacity,” said the country’s Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas on Wednesday.
U Party Senator Mauricio Lizcano assured that federal funds will continue to flow into the controversial Regional Autonomous Corporations [CARs]. The CARs are unelected local authorities who decide how national funds are spent in accordance with sustainable environmental practices. Several CARs have been accused of corruption and stalling certain public works projects.
In addition to expressing the government’s desire to spur infrastructure growth, Cardenas said there will be “no support for…projects that are not really productive…OCAD [elected and unelected officials responsible for evaluating investment projects] may not approve anything without [it first] going through a study [performed by] the national government.”
Congress’ approval of the budget, which still needs to be signed by President Juan Manuel Santos, comes on the heels of a report which labeled Colombia’s infrastructure one of the worst in Latin America. The report by the social and economic investigative body Fedesarrollo recommended that $11 billion be invested annually until 2020 if Colombia is to get up to par.
According to the president of Fedesarrollo, Colombia “doesn’t have the infrastructure to continue to grow at the rates we expected” due to a lack of public investment and institutional factors that fail to stimulate private investment.
“In Colombia we have a problem between quality and quantity. No investments have been made with the top quality because this costs more and the benefits cannot be seen in the short term, meaning it does not hold benefit from the political point of view which is looking for immediate results,” said Fedesarollo President Leonardo Villar at a November 23 meeting of the National Congress on Infrastructure.