Colombia on Wednesday passed a Disablities Act that aims to eliminate discrimination and ensure employment opportunities, access to adequate healthcare, quality education and housing, and better transportation facilities for disabled Colombians.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed Act 1618 of 2013 into effect which requires “the State, both in its national and territorial entities, to ensure…the rights of persons with disablities and the elimination of all forms of discrimination.”
“The law states that all local authorities should include in their development plans, a public policy [for disabled people] which should enter into operation later this year,” said Santos.
“The Act also guarantees acess to primary and secondary education, and states that those who enter public universities pay the minimum tuition set by each institution,” said the president.
In order to encourage businesses to hire disabled people, companies whose workforce is at least 10% made up of disabled people will receive “preferences” when it comes time for the government to hand out contracts and “in the granting of loans or grants.”
According to a press release from the President’s office, the National Savings Fund will create a line of credit with more favorable interest rates for people with disabilities. In addition to interest rates, five percent of the national budget will also be allocated for housing subsidies.
“We have a long way to go but we are determined to overcome the exclusions experienced by people with disabilities for so long,” said Santos.
“I must confess that sometimes I feel bad talking about ‘disabled’ people because, as I have said before, these people are often the most capable and the most valuable,” the president said before a crowd at the presidential palace, which included members of the community targeted by this new law.
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