Public employees will be marching today to protest and restore the 3.8 percent cuts that a legislative budget committee chopped from the 7.9 trillion-colon 2015 national budget.
Within the legislature, the Frente Amplio political party has promised to do likewise.
President Luis Guillermo Solís went on television Sunday night to defend his budget and said that it should not be mutilated. And, he said, although important, the fiscal deficit is not the most important challenge facing government. The defict can be handled in the long-term, he said, as he decried possible setbacks in health, education and security.
The president said he hoped that the full legislature would not be tied up by a small group of legislators. He was referring to the eight lawmakers on the budget committee who voted in favor of the 3.8 percent cuts.
The approved budget is 7.6 trillion colons, about $14 billion. The amount trimmed from the executive branch budget was 297.8 billion colons or about $546 million.
The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte, the Poder Judicial, the Ministerio de Educación Publica and the Ministerio de la Presidencia sustained the bulk of the cuts, according to a legislative summary.
Solís in his Sunday talk, said that the government had made cut of 21 billion colons and improved tax collection an equal amount, which is about $38.5 million.
The march by union members today is not so much a protest of specific budget cuts but a show of force to challenge the executive branch. Solís submitted a budget proposal 19 percent higher than the previous year. Even with the legislative cuts, the proposed budget still is 15 percent higher than the 2014 version.
In addition to the Asociación Nacional de Empleado Públicos y Privados, the march today is being supported by Frente Amplio, which is pushing for much higher taxes on businesses and those they see as being rich. Also marching will be the Asociación Nacional de Profesionales en Investigación Criminalística, which will be specifically protesting cuts to the Poder Judicial budget.
Albino Vargas Barrantes. secretary general of the Asociación Nacional de Empleado Públicos y Privados, is calling for a transformation of the tax structure.