Archive image of the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro. EFE/ Enrique García Medina
By determination of the National Government, by 2024 the salaries of officials in the three branches of public power will not be raised, as a result of the Constitutional Court declaring an article of the tax reform unenforceable.
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“By 2024, high salaries cannot increase in the three branches of Public Power or in decentralized entities. It would be economic suicide. This will help part of the 6.5 billion gap that this decision leaves us,” said the president from Cartagena.
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It is true that the measure may affect a large number of people who work in the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches. However, according to President Petro, the measure seeks to avoid the fiscal impact of what will not be received due to the tax reform. To this we must add that obligations are approaching such as the payment of the first installment of the flash credit that was acquired with the International Monetary Fund.
Furthermore, according to the head of state, Colombia must “increase debt payments from $70 to $96 billion, and $6.5 billion less in income. “We have to look at where we cut back so that the blow is not fatal for Colombia.” He added that under his government the debts will continue to be paid and that investment will not suffer cuts and, under that premise, those sacrificed, in the first instance, will be the senior government officials, the judicial and legislative branches.
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“There will also be cuts in operating expenses that do not affect the priorities of the National Development Plan. Hopefully we will not have to postpone non-priority decisions in the country’s public investment. In this way we hope to cover the gap generated two months before the start of a new year,” he pointed out.
The cut in the nation’s budget began because the Constitutional Court declared unenforceable an article of the tax reform that sought to prohibit the deduction of royalties from the tax base of the income tax of mining companies.
The representative to the Chamber for the Green Alliance Catherine Juvinao, who on several occasions has been one of the most critical of the Government, celebrated the decision of the National Government. “Of course I agree and support this measure. Not precisely because the Government is putting together budgets with little birds in the air and then realizes that this money does not exist, but because it is an ethical measure of equity that sends the correct message to society,” said the representative.
Representative Cathy Juvinao celebrated the announcement made by President Petro – credit Lina Gasca/Colprensa
On the other hand, after the President’s announcement, the Minister of Finance, Ricardo Bonilla, stated that it is true that the salaries of civil servants will not be increased, but there will be a smaller increase for 2024. “This decision has a short-term impact and it means that we have a defunding of the 2024 budget of $3.8 billion that must be added to the source withholding and that will be deducted. Therefore we have to make a budget cut of $6.5 billion,” stated the head of the portfolio.
According to Minister Bonilla, the budget reduction should be done proportionally for all branches of public power, including control agencies. “Everyone is going to have an impact on the reduction. In terms of income of civil servants there will be a differential increase in terms of which low income will be proportional.”
The President’s announcement generated some discomfort among different sectors, such as that of the former president of the CUT, Diógenes Orjuela. The union member reminded the president that the increases for all state workers are already regulated by the results and agreements of the negotiations between the labor confederations and the state federations.
According to Orjuela, the salary increase for civil servants is already established by law and endorsed by the Ministry of Finance – credit file/Freepik
“For the year 2023, the increase made to all State servants was 1.5 and, therefore, the general increase was inflation plus 1.5. For the year 2024, it is also agreed that the increase is 1.6″, commented Orjuela.
Based on this, Orjuela asserted that what should be done is to apply said agreement once the inflation figure for this year is known. “That is not at the discretion of the President of the Republic or any other official. It was negotiated and signed by the current Minister of Finance, Dr. Bonilla (…) It is the largest agreement made in collective bargaining in Colombia, which covers more or less 1,300,000 State workers, of which ministries, or Armed Forces,” he reiterated.