Costa Rican Finance Minister Édgar Ayales on Sunday presented a draft of a $13.4 billion National Budget for 2014 to the Legislative Assembly. Lawmakers must approve the country’s budget before Nov. 30.
The budget proposal is 8 percent higher than that approved for 2013, and 42.7 percent would have to be financed with public debt. Total expenditures mean a ₡3.2 billion deficit.
“Revenues barely cover 57 percent of total expenditures, and that creates a fiscal deficit, despite all of the government’s efforts to cut expenses,” the Finance Ministry stated in a press release.
The proposed expenditure for next year “exceeds expected income in some 6.2 percent of national production,” the statement added.
The government’s proposal includes detailed descriptions on each expenditure in 30 categories, including those of every ministry, public agency and the Legislative Assembly.
It also includes all budget estimates for pension payments and public debt, among others.
The largest budget item proposal for the executive branch is for the Education Ministry, at nearly $4 billion, most of which (80 percent) would be spent on teachers’ salaries. That amount equals 7.2 percent of the gross national product for next year, which is short of the 8 percent established by Costa Rica’s Constitution for education spending.
Estimated spending for the Presidency Ministry, Casa Presidencial and other official offices for President Laura Chinchilla next year would total $33 million, mostly to pay wages for 412 employees, with 8.3 percent -or $2.7 million- being spent on communications and public relations.
Proposed expenditures for the Public Security Ministry would total $460 million, with 93 percent slotted for operating expenses and salaries for 16,264 employees – 14,560 who are police officers.
The draft budget must be evaluated and approved by the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Commission before being voted on by all 57 lawmakers in two separate rounds of voting.