Piñera Announces Chile’s 2020 Budget: “We Face Hard Times”

SANTIAGO – President Piñera presented the proposal for Chile’s 2020 budget last week. According to the proposed budget, public spending will increase 3 percent. Chile is suffering difficult economic times as result of the low copper prices and the trade war between China and the United States.

In his proposed budget for 2020, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has announced a 3 percent public spending increase. This increase is the lowest in ten years and the president explained that it is due to the hard times Chile is facing.

His administration predicted a growth of 3.8 percent for 2019, which the Central Bank reduced to 2.5 percent earlier this year. In 2018, the Chilean economy grew 4 percent and Piñera explained that “the average growth of 3.25 percent in the first two years doubles the average growth of the previous Government and that puts Chile at the top of Latin American countries.”

The proposed 2020 budget, totaling US$74.2 billion dollars, is focused on several pillars, including the educational system, the health care and pension system, foreign investment, security, and the climate crisis the country is suffering.

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The 2020 Budget: Investment to Grow

Piñera was the first to acknowledge it in his speech: the world and Chile face difficult times. The administration wants investment to grow 6.8 percent. Part of the budget will go to investments to around 2,000 infrastructure projects throughout the country, such as airports, a train network, and a fiber optic network. Another part of the budget is slated for the creation of 170,000 new jobs and wage increases.

The 2020 Budget: Battling the Climate Crisis

Returning from the UN Assembly, where Piñera pitched himself as a “green” president, the 2020 Budget was the first opportunity in his home country to do the same.  According to Piñera during the presentation of the proposed budget: “A process is already underway to transform Chile into a carbon-neutral country … with more energy efficiency in all sectors and an ambitious program for reforestation.”

As both economic sectors and citizens suffer in Chile from the ongoing drought, Piñera announced so-called “Rural Potable Water Projects” to help affected citizens and farmers. Another part of the budget will go to the construction of 26 new water reservoirs, water desalination plants, and innovative irrigation projects, the president said.

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The 2020 Budget: Education Mentioned Briefly

Education, a topic that caused several Chilean presidents headaches, was mentioned more briefly than expected, especially considering the teacher strikes that hit schools earlier this year. Piñera mentioned that reforms had been made regarding the finance and admission mechanisms of educational institutions. Grants for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, the promotions of so-called excellent high schools, and improvement of the conditions for workers in the educational system were proposed plans.

The 2020 Budget: Security is Still Not Good Enough

Security, the hobbyhorse of the Piñera administration, deserves, according to the budget, lots of extra attention, despite all investments made. With 72,000 people arrested with pending arrest warrants, the controversial law on preventive identity control, and an increase of 3,000 police officers in the streets, there is still enough to improve according to the Piñera government.

The president announced the improvement of what he called “state-of-the-art systems like remote surveillance cameras, drones, car control frames, all with the aim of ensuring greater peace and security to the families of Chile.”

The 2020 Budget: Healthcare and Social System

Regarding health care, the president announced his government will invest in 75 hospital projects and 86 health centers, as well as the incorporation of 1,000 new medical specialists.

The prices of medicine will go down, according to the president, by “27 percent on average for 2,700 of the most used medicines in the country.”

Chileans who receive basic salary are to receive an improved pension starting next year, while part of the budget goes to the Sename childcare institutions.

Piñera will send his budget proposal to Congress this week, where the deputies will vote on the plan late November.

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