Yesterday an official bulldozer managed not only to ratify the state of calamity decreed by the Executive for the damage caused by rains, but also to capitalize on a emergency fund for Q1 billion.
The proposal was born from Cándido Leal, from Vamos and president of the Finance Commission, who had the amendment ready to modify the 2022 Budget.
Change consists of taking Q600 million from the fund for the purchase of anticovid vaccines —of Q1 billion— and Q400 million from the recently approved emergency plan for road infrastructure, a fund of more than Q3.1 billion that was granted to the Ministry of Communications for road repairs.
In this way, Congress withdraws budget locks to Q1 billion that it can use at its discretion to respond to the damages caused by the rainy season.
Although the parliamentary majority supported the proposal, some deputies expressed their reservations because they consider that the Government seeks to take advantage of the resources for the climatic emergency with a view to the upcoming electoral event.
Leal, rapporteur of the motion, had summoned his colleagues to an emergency meeting today at 9:30 to propose the budget modification.
“I was naive thinking that tomorrow — today — they were going to send the initiative to the Finance Commission,” said Álvaro Arzú Escobar, criticizing the last-minute tactic of the ruling party, for which his vote was against.
“It seems irresponsible to me and in 30 days, another extension, not because the rains continue but because they will not have finished the money. So, we are going to have two or three months of uncontrolled executions,” he added.
The blocs in Congress that define themselves as opposition do not trust the response that the Executive Branch and its allies will give. Just by considering budget changes, the message is clear, in the opinion of Walter Félix, of URNG-Maíz.
“If what they want is an extension of the budget ceiling, we already know what the strategy is: have a lot of money for next year’s campaign and with this the objective and purpose of a state of Calamity is denatured”, he opined.
The lack of preventive actions, considers Juan Carlos Rivera, from the Victoria party, is part of a more complex strategy, since if there were actually prevention, such a high investment would not have to be considered.
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“The strategy is to cause things to collapse, to enact exceptional measures to hire without control and spend the people’s resources disproportionately, but if each institution did its job, the impact of the rains would be on a smaller scale,” said Rivera.
Samuel Pérez, from Movimiento Semilla, also believes that there is a political background that is hiding behind the crisis of the road network, and it is very possible that with the focus on the political strategy of the 2023 general elections.
“What they want to do now is take advantage of the crisis caused by corruption, the builders. Instead of carrying out their work, they try to loot with their partners, who are mostly district deputies allied with the ruling party,” he said.
Román Castellanos, also from Semilla, was critical of the ruling party for the transfer of funds. “This demonstrates the urgency to seize money from the public budget, taking advantage of the emergency, the pain and suffering of the people to loot funds,” he pointed out.
Since Tuesday, and with more force yesterday, the intention of the ruling party to review the execution of the 2022 Budget was made clear, so that the ministries that reported low execution would have their allocations reduced in order to have more resources for eventual weather emergencies.
Oto Callejas, from the Todos bloc and member of the Finance Commission, said yesterday that the Commission wanted to propose the budget modification. This does not increase the spending ceiling and it would not be necessary to approve more debt, according to him.
According to the records of the Integrated Accounting System of the Ministry of Finance, until yesterday the average execution of the Government was 6 percent, of an assigned budget of Q106 thousand 229 million. The Ministry of Social Development does not even reach 2 percent of execution of its allocation of Q1 thousand 300 million.
“We talked about the budget in general. There are several ministries that have not acted, have not executed, and we are already halfway through a year. We can see how we readjust that budget and be able to transfer it to the Ministry of Communications without affecting the total amount of the budget,” said Callejas.
This is not necessary, according to Lucrecia Marroquín de Palomo, from Valor, because the Ministry of Communications already has enough money to work, so a readjustment is not necessary, let alone thinking about more debt.
Marroquín de Palomo, also a member of the Finance Commission, said that today he will propose to modify the Purchasing and Contracting Law so that the emergency can be responded to immediately and transparently, without spending more resources than those assigned.
“I think there is no need for a budget readjustment, the State has too much money. Our proposal is to make changes to the Purchasing and Contracting Law to streamline purchases with transparency. We need those in positions of hierarchy to be able to get things done,” she pointed out.