President Gustavo Petro revealed the proposals with which the government hopes to radically “change” Colombia’s socio-economic policies in the coming years.
In the 150-page National Development Plan (PND), the administration outlined how it plans to implement the policies promised by the president ahead of his election last year.
The PND contains the government’s ambitious strategy to implement far-reaching proposals to strengthen Colombia’s economy, combat poverty, improve public security and combat the negative effects on climate change.
The four-year plan will have major implications on Colombia’s foreign policy objectives as many of the DNP’s policy objections would require cooperation from other countries.
According to the PND, the government plans to invest $254.3 million (COP1.2 trillion) to finance its economic development plans.
The most important objectives of the PND are:
- A radical land reform would seek to boost domestic food production, lower food prices and guarantee Colombians’ sustained access to drinking water.
- In order to achieve this, the agrarian reform will seek stimulus packages for small farmers and farming cooperatives, and provide them with the opportunities to legally obtain land rights and facilitate the registry of these land property rights in a central database.
- This strategy would also seek to reduce violence in the countryside where more than half a century of land grabbing by regional elites and organized crime has all but monopolized land ownership, destroyed the agricultural sector and is fueling the production of cocaine, according to the Truth Commission.
- The government also vowed to implement elements of a 2016 peace agreement with the FARC, which would allow these farmers to take part in the legal economy, for example by the creation of road infrastructure than would give them access to markets.
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Financial support for the poor
- The PND also seeks the creation of a Universal Income Registry, which would allow the government to streamline the granting of subsidies to the poor through a single social welfare system rather than multiple..
- The government also wants to strengthen financial support for historically marginalized groups that have disproportionately suffered extreme poverty and hunger.
- The government additionally plans to replace the Tax Value Unit with the Relative Value Unit, which allows the government to allow poor citizens to pay less for public services than those who have more money.
- The government also proposed to ease the conditions that would allow people easier access to social housing, particularly in historically neglected regions.
- Last but not least, the PND wants to launch a so-called “zero hunger” program, which would allow the government to bypass private financial institutions to provide financial assistance as well as food relief to people whose poverty threatens their food security.
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Access to education
- When it comes to public education, the government plans to provide free higher education to those who historically have been excluded from this because of their financial or geographical situation.
- The government additionally is considering measures to cancel the student debt of those who are ahead in debt payments.
- The PND additionally would seek to rural populations’ access to internet and stimulate the development of telecommunications services that could provide information in regions that currently have no access to local news or information.
Porn profits to combat sexual exploitation
- The adult entertainment industry would pay more taxes, which would be used to combat the sexual exploitation of minors.
- The PND also seeks to create a National Registry for the Reduction and Green House Gas Emissions, which would allow stimulus packages for Colombian and multinational companies that develop carbon-neutral energy projects instead of projects that seek to generate energy through the exploitation of traditional energy sources like oil and mining.
The PND and its individual elements will first have to be approved by Congress before the government is able to implement the measures that seek a radical change it Colombia’s socio-economic policy of the past decades.
The Foreign Ministry has also been lobbying with the United States Government in an attempt to receive support in Washington for a counternarcotics policy that seeks to end repressive and disastrous policies developed during the US-led “War on Drugs.”
Instead, the Petro administration had been promoting economic development in the countryside to reduce the supply of cocaine and a negotiated end to illegal armed groups’ participation in the production and trafficking of illicit drugs.