Colombia’s President Ivan Duque has launched his National Development Plan that sets out socio-economic spending for his administration.
The $325 billion spending plan determines how the Duque administration plans to develop the social and economic landscape of the South American country in the coming four years.
The plan, known by the Spanish acronym PND, sets “ambitious goals in education, employment, entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability,” said the head of state at a launch in the city of Valledupar in the north of the country.
Duque’s plan identifies a range of aspects of Colombian society, socially, politically and economically that are in drastic need of government attention.
It is being adopted after several months of open political debate based on earlier drafts. Critics said that, among other things, the plan short-changes education, rural development, anti-deforestation and other environmental work.
Poverty – bridging the gap
The eradication of extreme poverty features prominently in Duque’s four-year plan with investment aiming at bridging the gap between the classes as well as the provision of adequate nutrition for children in schools.
“The great goals we have are: to remove 1.9 million Colombians from extreme poverty, remove 3.4 million Colombians from monetary poverty, ensure that 7 million children have school meals with all the micro-nutrients 180 days of the year,” he said to local media.
The government aims to do this with the implementation of the Sisben IV program in 2020, which will see State resources delivered to the most vulnerable members of society through subsidies.
The National Development Plan aims to stimulate the economy in several ways, aligned with Duque’s “Orange Economy” strategy, which aims to develop the creative industries in particular.
In relation to the main sectors that fall into the orange economy, such as visual arts, software development and cultural industries, the PND targets a growth from 2.9% to 5.1% by 2022.
Duque’s administration also aims to reduce the national unemployment rate from 9.4% to 7.9% with the creation of 1.6 million jobs, a target that would see it fall to its lowest rate since the 1990s.
The plan is also targeting the development of international trade and the promotion of foreign investment in Colombia as a means of increasing the capacity of the economy.
In tandem with the promotion of international trade, the development of domestic infrastructure is also targeted with plans to increase the commercial rail network from 420 kilometers to 1,077 kilometers in order to improve logistical efficiency.
Colombia has the potential to conquer international markets in which it has been opening access opportunities. Therefore, strategies will be implemented to take advantage of existing trade integration agreements, with increases in exportable supply, reduction of logistics times and costs, and with the promotion of foreign direct investment, especially in non-mining energy sectors and large modern investments.
National Development Plan
The agricultural sector too is set to benefit with about $7 billion set aside for farmers and rural development in general.
The development of education is also a key facet of the PND, setting out a target of having 2 million children in pre-school and primary education by 2022, which would represent a 67% increase.
Additionally, the PDN aims to double the number of students who are attending a single session school day from 900,000 to 1.8 million while 7 million children are set to benefit from the school food program.
Duque’s plan also aims to strengthen the public education system with the aim of reaching 320,000 additional students over the four-year period.
Investment in education overall will be in the region of $64 billion.
Crime and security
The PND identifies drug trafficking as a one of the major targets in terms of turning Colombia’s increasing crime and security problems around.
“This country needs to shake off crime, drug trafficking, illicit crops, micro-trafficking, which leads to youth being lost, because there are some drug dealers who want to invade community spaces,” said Duque.
The plan sets a target of reducing the homicide rate from 25.8 per 100,000 inhabitants at which it currently stands, to 23.2 per 100,000.
“By August 7, 2022, we want to the deliver to this country the lowest homicide rate in 30 years, and we will do it because we are committed to the Public Force and community effort, in the Civic Participation Network,” added the head of state.
This is the Development Plan of Colombia that wants to shake off drug trafficking, of Colombia that wants to shake off poverty and of Colombia that wants to take the necessary steps to build a better future.”
Colombian President -Ivan Duque
With excessive rates of impunity, Colombia’s justice system has been increasingly losing credibility and is widely mistrusted. The Development Plan aims to reverse that mistrust and increase the credibility of the judicial system by 10 percent.
Duque’s plan makes certain provisions for investment in the protection of the environment and natural resources as a means of maintaining the country’s most valuable assets.
“We want the rain forests of Colombia to be protected, not to be swept away by drug trafficking, illegal land grabs or, even worse, by the disorderly extension of the agricultural borders,” said Duque.
Duque affirmed that the PND will provide for the planting of 180 million trees in order to stimulate a rejuvenation of the environment that is continually under threat from pollution and illegal activities.
Overall, $3 billion will be set aside for protection of the environment and sustainable development.
The hard-right head of state has come in for severe criticism amid his continued opposition to the country’s ongoing peace process with the now-demobilized FARC.
When pressed by reporters, particularly about his opposition to the war crimes tribunal, which could possibly implicate some members of his Democratic Center party, Duque claimed that despite his reservations, the PND will provide sufficient provision for post-war reintegration.
All Colombians want to live in an environment of peace. But we require that those who have committed the worst crimes in society repair their victims, tell the truth, have proportional justice. We are pleased that this Development Plan has foreseen that we can help the communities that left the violence to be successful in the path of reincorporation.”
Colombian President – Ivan Duque
According to the president, after starting with two post-conflict reintegration projects, this number has grown to 23 with the aim of finding “a path of sustainability and income from legality.”
As a whole the PND sets roughly $14 billion aside for programs related to reconciliation and social inclusion.
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The president believes that the bases of the plan were built through social dialogue, which facilitated the reception of 25,000 proposals through virtual platforms.
“That allowed us to present a plan to Congress, and they also enriched it with their ideas and his proposals. So this plan is not the plan of a president, but is the plan built collectively by a country,” said Duque.