Colombia’s Congress approved raising the government’s 2023 budget by some 16.9 trillion pesos ($4.1 billion) in overnight votes on Friday, with education and health to receive the biggest boosts to funding.
Leftist President Gustavo Petro has pledged to fight deep inequality in the Andean country – where about half of people live in some form of poverty – through sweeping reforms to the healthcare system, pensions and work rules.
Congress initially approved a budget bill worth 405.6 trillion pesos – the highest budget in the country’s history – last October, but has now voted to increase that by 16.9 trillion pesos, taking the total to 422.5 trillion pesos.
The additional funds, approved during extra sessions tacked onto the end of the normal legislative period, are mostly earnings from a tax reform pushed through by Petro’s government last year, which raised duties on oil and coal.
Education will receive 2.2 trillion pesos extra, according to a draft version of the bill, while health will receive a little over 2 trillion pesos and housing some 1.5 trillion.
The resources will go toward economic reactivation, via programs which could be executed in the second half, the finance ministry said in a statement.
The bill was approved with 109 votes in favor in the lower house and 59 votes in favor in the Senate.
The government had originally requested an increase of some 25 trillion pesos.
Petro’s labor reform must be proposed anew when the next legislative session begins on July 20, where debate will continue on the health and pension reforms, which have received initial approvals in congressional committees.
($1 = 4,097.5000 Colombian pesos)
Source : usnews