Congress finally dispatched the 2021 Budget this Saturday, on the date of the 2021 Budget. This after the Senate approved the report of the joint committee that accounted for a number of agreements aimed at unlocking the discussion of the initiative.
After an extended day, lawmakers approved next year’s era for 28 votes in favour, 0 against and 4 abstentions from MPs Yasna Provoste (DC), Kenneth Pug (IND), Ximena Rincón (DC) and Guido Girardi (PPD).
Senator Jorge Pizarro (DC), chairman of the Joint Committee, stressed that the move «reflects the June agreements to address the health crisis to advance the revival of the economy, protection of families, job creation», among others.
His PPD peer, Ricardo Lagos Weber (PPD), also valued the agreement reached on Health and Science. «In health we made the per capita 8,000 pesos, as requested by health people. Science replenished the $67 billion for green hydrogen studies and the development of another area of national interest that had been downgraded,» Lagos said.
«25 billion pesos were approved to reduce the digital divide and allocate them to digital regional connectivity,» he said, «In addition, there are several areas where we reached an agreement and far today we have a better budget than was presented at the beginning of October,» he added.
«We know strongly that more than 10,000 pesos per capita is needed in primary care in order to have quality health. However, we have managed to increase this time in the budget through negotiations to eight thousand pesos. which is still insufficient, but is much better than the figure originally in this government-proposed budget,» PR Deputy Marcela Hernando (PR) added.
«It seems to me that this is the way to correct things, this is what has us today satisfied and that it will make us vote, obviously, in favour of this increase in the budget,» she said.
Senator Juan Antonio Coloma (UDI) stated that «this is a budget that for me is the most robust in Chile for obvious reasons, it is not because this is a better government or a worse government, it is because we have a very relevant degree of need and that is born a product of agreements (…) I think that’s very valuable, realizing that in spite of all the agreements are fulfilled and that helped a lot to set the edges of a discussion that could have been endless.»
Since the Government, Finance Minister Ignacio Briones had appreciated the work of the opposition and officialism in reaching an agreement. «A very positive signal for the country this dialogue that has taken place, so to thank that effort of the opposition and of course also of Chile Vamos, because I want to say it publicly, the support and work did not refer only to the great effort that was made in the Mixta and in the Congress, but the truth is that this budget is prepared together long hours behind that are also not seen» The minister declared.
«And of course, the libertarian force of a coalition in which it gives strength and sustains the government,» Briones added.
On 26 November, the Chamber chamber of the Chamber of Members and Deputies rejected a significant number of amendments made by the Senate to the draft Budget Law for the year 2021, thus leading to the formation of a joint committee that could overcome the differences and reach an agreement between the different sectors.
The analysis included the revision of thirteen of the 31 budget items, as well as rules of the articulation of the law. Specific subjects at issue included primary care money, contributions to regional housing services, amounts for regional investment, Corfo resources, higher education money, the Segegob budget and provisions governing the use of the Transitional Emergency Fund.
Today, the Chamber set out to study the agreements reached in the joint committee, which were voted in that instance in favour, unanimously, and which were also ratified in the Corporation following a vote which recorded 122 votes in favour and four abstentions.
Among the agreed points, which must now be endorsed by the Senate before moving on to the Executive, is raising the basal per capita to eight thousand pesos in Primary Health, which implies a Mayr investment of 113 billion pesos. Its purpose will be to improve the care of the population and comply with the GES guarantees.
The drop in baseline contributions to CRUCH universities is also reversed by 32 billion pesos. In addition, the use of the accumulated surpluses of the University Credit Solidarity Fund (FSCU) by 35% will be authorized by 2021 to fill the deficit in the implementation of section 107 of the Universities Act (free); and 25%, to finance extraordinary expenses for the years 2020-2021, as a result of the Covid-19 fund. This implies access to FSCU resources of more than 60 billion pesos.
In addition, 67 billion were replenished in the Ministry of Sciences aimed at enhancing innovation in the country’s future challenges, such as water scarcity, green hydrogen, technological change and modernization of the production matrix.
In Culture, more than 18 billion pesos were replenished for the development of cultural and memory activities. 60% of resources will go to regions. In addition, this framework includes the creation of a multiannual insolvency fund.
For SMEs, resources to support the recovery of the sector are increased by three billion. The money adds up to the 96 billion already contemplated in the Ministry of Economy.
In regional investment, it was agreed by 2021 to allocate investment resources by 31 March, thereby accelerating project implementation. Likewise, teams can be strengthened in each region of professionals from the Ministries of OOPP, Housing and Environment.
Another point will be to allocate one billion of the Social and Environmental Recovery program to strengthen primary health in the communes with the greatest environmental pollution (Huasco, Coronel, Quintero, Puchuncaví and Tocopilla, among those cited).
It is then considered to allocate up to 25 billion from the Regional Support Fund (FAR) to develop programs that improve digital connectivity, so as to begin to overcome the gaps highlighted by the pandemic.
Finally, among other points, progress will be made in creating a final register of suppliers that will be included in the bill modernizing the public procurement system. To expand this tool in the private sector, a report will be requested from the OECD which will then be submitted to the Joint Budget Committee.
In the debate, the potholes that could not be overcome were expressed, as well as the difficulties in finding points of agreement. There was also criticism of the Government’s initial proposals and low allocations in key areas, particularly during the pandemic period.
At the same time, however, the progress made during the various phases of the procedure promoted by parliamentarians and which had their most inflection point in the joint committee was highlighted, where materials that were knotted throughout the process could be agreed.