The implementation of an eventual peace deal between Colombia’s FARC rebel group and the government could cost the country over $100 billion, reported newspaper El Tiempo on Monday.
Since the peace talks began in Havana, Cuba in November 2012, various state bodies have offered their estimations, never exceeding $44 billion, of how much it will really cost to implement the agreements reached between the government and the FARC.
According to El Tiempo newspaper, The Congressional Peace Commission suggested around $12 billion would be needed and former Finance and Agriculture minister Juan Camilo Restrepo suggested between $14 billion and $35 billion.
The government has remained neutral in the matter by not yet releasing an official figure.
A principal member of the Green Alliance Party and congresswoman Claudia Lopez, bumped up the estimation in a recent debate on transitional justice in Congress to $100 billion.
According to Lopez, the government will need to invest $100 billion over the 15 years following an arrival at peace, “equivalent to 1.5% of the gross domestic product.”
According to Sergio Clavijo, director of the Center for Economic Studies, military spending in 2014 amounted to 3.5% of the GDP.
394 municipalities and 15 million Colombians in rural areas will be the ones to receive this money, that will also require international donations.
Lopez’s estimation that exceeds her 2014 prediction of around $31 billion, has risen following reports from the Rural Mission and the Third Farming Census that demonstrate what is really needed for victim reparation.
Another reason for the increase is that “the calculations were previously for ten years and now they are for 15, because a decade is very little time for what needs to happen. It was previously 250 municipalities, and now it’s 394,” added Lopez.
According to Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas, by the end of 2015 the government will have spent around $3.5 billion on victim reparation and similar investments, a figure that will supposedly be mirrored in 2016.
In terms of where most of the money will be invested, economist from the University of the Andes, Ana Maria Ibañez said that “the municipalities where the FARC have been present for decades, of which the number is unknown, is where the initial investments will have to be made in order to fulfill the rural development agreement.”
The fiscal watchdog on the other hand, reportedly said that investment should be focused on the victims, instead of disarmament, demobilization and social reintegration as has been done in the past.
Lopez reportedly predicted that investment will have to be managed in 3.5-year periods of $30 billion invested in to productive development.
Senator Ivan Cepeda said that “basic conditions of infrastructure need to be guaranteed in municipalities most effected by the conflict,” along with a comprehensive system for transitional justice and substitution projects of illicit crops.
“The Colombian business community must see peace not as a burden, but as an opportunity to promote agricultural development,” said Cepeda.