Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday warned his vice-president, who had fiercely criticized the country’s new poverty definitions, saying that officials who publicly criticize the system “should withdraw from the government.”
Santos remarks follow public bickering between the government’s Planning Department DNP and the vice-president over the height of the official poverty line. According to the Planning Department’s new definitions, a person is not poor if he/she earns $105 a month and is part of a family of four with an income of $438 a month.
Vice President Angelino Garzon blasted the DNP’s new definitions, saying “I don’t know what planet they live on” and calling the new definitions an “insult” to Colombians living below the poverty line.
“The official that wants to disagree can do so within the government, but not in public. If he wants to do it in public he would have to remove himself from the government. He should withdraw from the government and cast the criticism from the outside. This is how any democracy works,” Santos said at a public meeting in the Cundinamarca department.
The Colombian government aims to lift a million citizens above the poverty line. A recent article in U.K. newspaper The Guardian “cautiously” welcomed the government measures, but warned that the government’s new definitions automatically lowers the poverty level from 64% to 9% without actually implementing poverty reduction policies.