New budget gets an OK: ¢6,600,000,000,000

Lawmakers gave final approval to a 2014 national budget Wednesday knowing that at least 42.7 percent of expenditures would be financed with debt.

Members of the Partido Acción Ciudadana voted against the financial plan and said that for the first time more than 50 percent of the salaries would be financed with debt. This is not sustainable, said lawmakers Gustavo Arias Navarro, who voted against the measure.

The budget makes grim reading.  About 34.4 percent of the spending is determined by constitutional obligations.

The amount of the budget is 66 followed by 11 zeros in colons. That’s $13.2 billion in English.

In Spanish the amount would be 6.6 billón, which is not the same as a billion in English.

Jeannette Ruiz Delgado, also of Acción Ciudadana, was critical of the number of rentals specified in the budget.

The legislative staff estimated that the new budget was 3.1 percent greater than the 2013 budget. The amount is not fixed, and it is likely that the central government will seek authorization for more money when the need arises. That happens every year.

Some 29.2 percent will be spent on servicing the existing national debt, and 29.1 percent will be spent by the Ministerio de Educación Pública. Public pensions will take 10.6 percent. The judiciary will spend 5.3 percent, according to the legislative staff.

The new budget gives a 54.4 percent raise to the  Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the child welfare agency. Still one of the major objections of opposition lawmakers was the amount of money going to social programs. They wanted more spent there.

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