Colombia’s Congress is engaged in debate over the granting of special powers to the presidency to control public bodies, Congress’ website reported Tuesday.
Senators from all political parties criticized the lack of clarity in a proposal for further special powers to be granted to President Juan Manuel Santos, in addition to those which currently allow the president to create new ministries.
Debate began over a provision that would allow Santos to make changes to the legal basis, as well as the organizational structure, of various administrative bodies. The addition of section “e” of “Article 17” would permit Santos to “create, divide, and change the legal nature of public establishments and other entities or administrative bodies,” of the public administration sector.
Prior to the debate, Congress approved provisions of Article 17 which would allow Santos to create, divide, fuse, abolish, and determine the organizational structure of administrative departments as well as new ministries. However, the debate grew to include the pre-approved provisions as well as a section of this document
Many Congress members expressed concern that the terms of the various provisions would essentially give the president free reign to make changes to these entities.
Senator Juan Carlos Velez of the Partido de la U said there must be limits on the granting of new powers, and that “We are not in a position to do it [grant these powers].”
Meanwhile, Senator Jorge Robledo of the Democratic Party stated that “If this was approved, it would be a ‘massacre of labor.’ We demand guarantees for the workers. What’s more, how is it possible that just as we are about to approve it, we notice that powers are also given to reform regional and municipal entities.”
Senator Camilo Sanchez of the Liberal Party added that the provisions would “extend free reign to the technocrats of the Santos government.”
Notwithstanding the numerous criticisms, members of some parties said that they would support the the provisions. Alvaro Ashton, also of the Liberal Party, said “The Liberal Party will accompany President Santos in this initiative.”
The debate over approval of the provisions will continue at 3PM Wednesday 9 March.