Colombia’s National Development Plan will be debated in the Congress and Senate this week in order to try and pass the bill by Saturday, Caracol Radio reported.
“I hope that between Tuesday and Wednesday the project can be approved, which simultaneously will be discussed by the Senate plenary. And, as is expected, if changes have occurred in either chamber, we will have to sit on Friday to negotiate the issues,” said Chairman of the Congress Carlos Alberto Zuluaga .
President Juan Manuel Santos‘ ambitious National Development Plan proposes an investment of approximately $316 billion in the country over the next three years, of which $95 billion will come from the private sector to boost economic growth to a sustained level of above 5% through 2014. Santos hopes furthermore to bring 2.5 million Colombians out of poverty, reduce unemployment to 9% and continue with social welfare programs.
Of note, the bill being discussed this week negates any mention of raising the retirement age in Colombia, a previously contentious issue in the plan. Additionally, this version includes decrees issued by the government after January 7, 2011 that were struck down by the Constitutional Court in late March. The decrees in question address issues of assistance provided to the victims of last years floods.
The plan includes 253 articles in total which, by law, must be passed by May 30 to be implemented. It is structured on the so-called locomotive for development: housing, agriculture, infrastructure and transport, and energy and mining sector innovation. Santos recently travelled to Spain in search of private investors with expertise in these areas.
The plan promises to provide a million new homes, increase water supply and sewerage coverage, reinforce the reliability of the electricity sector, increase oil and coal production, extend road infrastructure with particular emphasis in biotechnology innovation, and expand tourism services among other things.
Also included in the plan are items related to restrictions on the smuggling of cigarettes and liquor, import and export management, and city housing programs and work incentives.
In additiona, the initiative seeks to give more power to regional authorities so that recovery efforts in areas affected by the heavy rains can be managed locally.