The Colombian government asked the country’s Congress for $3 billion after the Constitutional Court rejected an extended state of emergency that allowed the government to use special funds to help victims of last year’s excessive rainy season.
Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry asked Congress to allow the government to add the necessary emergency funds to this year’s national budget to be able to finance relief programs for victims, the rebuilding of schools and the reforestation of areas destructed by floods or landslides.
Echeverry asked the lawmakers to prioritize the government plans and to have the extra measures approved between two or three weeks.
Even if Congress approves the extra funds, the amount of help for victim relief and rebuilding will be less than originally planned and some aid programs will have to be canceled, President Juan Manuel Santos said.
“There is going to be some kind of interruption because of what happened in the Constitutional Court, but if we approve these laws quickly we will be able to try to ease the effect of this judicial decision,” Santos was quoted on his website.
The extra funds are part of the government’s “plan B” after its original aid package was rejected by the Constitutional Court.
The court sunk the January extension of a state of emergency declared in December after torrential rains flooded large parts of Colombia and hundreds of people were killed because of extreme weather. The ruling put the brakes on a number of projects the government had already begun to rebuild the country after the torrential rains.