President Juan Manuel Santos told Colombia his administration’s roughly $90-billion budget proposal for 2015 is meant to “achieve peace with prosperity,” placing a special emphasis on social spending, according to local media.
Keeping with that theme, the 2015 fiscal budget includes a slight decrease in funding for the Colombian military and an increase in spending on education, among other social sectors.
The $90-billion budget represents an overall increase of 4%, according to Colombia’s W Radio, and does not include payments to foreign debt, which recently reached 23.9% of the country’s total GDP, reported Dinero magazine. The national budget for investment will remain at $24.8 billion, despite an 11.7% increase in tax revenue.
President Santos has three objectives with the 2015 budget proposal, according to El Colombiano newspaper. First, reduce unemployment, already at historic lows, to below 8% by the end of the year. Second, keep inflation low. Third, decrease state debt.
The sectors of government that continue to enjoy the largest budget allocations are defense, with a budget decrease from $15 to $14.9 billion, and education, which will see funding increase from $14.5 billion to $15.3 billion, according to W Radio.
President Santos has indicated that some of the extra education funding will go toward including an additional 400,000 children in early education programs like “De Cero a Siempre,” with the ultimate goal to bring two million children into the program by 2018, reported Medellin’s El Colombiano newspaper.
Colciencias, Colombia’s science, research, and innovation promotor, received a budget increase of $539,000 in its proposed $204.4 million allotment. The agency’s director was forced to resign this week after she made public fears of budget cuts.
According to Colombia’s finance minister, Mauricio Cardenas, the social investment sector is the fastest growing in Colombia and the budget proposal is meant to reflect that. Cardenas states that spending in so-called inclusion programs will increase from $4.4 billion to $4.85 billion.
The labor sector, meanwhile, which includes job programs like SENA, Colombia’s national trade school, will see its $2.1 billion budget increase to $2.4 billion.
“This budget is the reflection of a government that continues to meet its promises; a government that focuses on society, a government where the generation of employment is a priority, as much as security and over all, equality,” declared President Santos.
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