San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Legislative Assembly

Lawmakers approve 2016 national budget at ₡8 trillion

Thanks to votes from a majority of opposition lawmakers on Thursday evening, the government of President Luis Guillermo Solís will get its requested budget for 2016, with no cuts, for the second consecutive year.

A majority of 34 members of the Legislative Assembly approved the ₡8 trillion ($15 billion) budget. The 2016 budget is 0.8 percent higher than this year’s budget.

Only 10 legislators voted against the government’s plan.

The proposal was passed thanks to negotiations between the ruling Citizen Action Party (PAC), National Liberation Party (PLN) and the Broad Front party (FA). The government’s proposal was supported by 21 opposition lawmakers, including 14 from PLN, six from the FA and one from the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC).

Some lawmakers, mainly from PUSC, accused PLN legislators of negotiating a “dark pact” with the government and of breaking a previous agreement among opposition parties that allowed them to secure the Assembly’s directorate in May.

“It’s an irresponsible budget,” PUSC lawmaker Rosibel Ramos said following the final vote tally. “We feel ashamed and hurt.”

Ramos, who chairs the Assembly’s Financial Affairs Committee, said “the country needs a moment of silence for what you are doing here today. What you shamelessly have done to our country has no name.”

PLN’s Olivier Jiménez said he supported the budget because it seemed austere and mainly because it ensures funds for public education, health and security for next year.

The budget was approved in a first round of debate last Tuesday with a 32-13 vote. Costa Rica’s constitution stipulates lawmakers must approve the national budget in two separate rounds of voting by Nov. 30 each year.

The approval of this year’s budget in November 2014 required a serious negotiating efforts from the government as opposition parties repeatedly said they would not approve Solís’ expenditure plan in the weeks before the final debate.

The second round of voting last year was held during a special legislative session on Saturday, Nov. 30, in which heated discussions and negotiations lasted five hours and ended at around 8 p.m. in a 27-22 vote, passing Solís’ budget proposal without a single cut.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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