Almost months and a half before the end of the 2022-2023 legislature, President Gustavo Petro approved the approval in Congress of his National Development Plan.

In the midst of the political storm generated by the president’s decision to declare dead the coalition with ‘la U’, the liberals and the conservatives – which materialized in the departure from his cabinet of the voices of the center, such as those of former ministers José Antonio Ocampo and Cecilia López–, Congress voted yes to 373 articlesin many of which there was consensus, even with voices critical of the so-called ‘government of change’.

The initial project had several background surgeries since February, when it reached the joint commissions. But in the text there were definitely several articles that set off alarm bells. Several of those alerts sounded from the first moment, and yet they passed the first round of the economic commissions in March, survived in the plenary sessions of the House and Senate, until they became law.

Others are recent. The congressmen presented more than 5,000 proposals to change the original project that the team of the National Planning Department (DNP) settled, headed by Jorge Iván González. Even on Thursday afternoon, in the last hours of discussion in the Chamber, 250 last-minute proposals emerged, most of which were rejected.

(Read: The ghost of expropriation in the National Development Plan is still alive)

During the debate, in several parties the concern remained alive about the possibility that in one of the many articles that the Government has to expedite the purchase of land for rural reform, a door for ‘express expropriation’ would end up slipping through. Many of those articles sank amid heated discussions, but In the end, an addendum was approved that will end protests.

“If people don’t want to sell, they don’t sell. The administrative part is expedited, but all the guarantees are preserved”.

The alert is such that even the president of the Conservative Party, Efraín Cepeda, has already announced that he will sue him before the Constitutional Court. “We ask that article 55, turned into 61, be reviewed with a magnifying glass.There could be a figure of expropriation that would put private property at risk in our Colombian field”, he said.

However, government officials defend the item and say they were not used to expropriate. González told this outlet that Colombians can rest easy. “If people don’t want to sell, they don’t sell. The administrative part is expedited, but all the guarantees are preserved, ”he assured.

(More: Items of the Development Plan that could affect your finances)

The most controversial initiative came from the beginning and, despite the alerts from the Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office, it ended up being approved. It’s about the changes that seek to favor public contracting with ‘popular economy organizations’such as community action boards and ethnic, popular and peasant associations, which would require fewer requirements than a normal offeror.

Although today the State can already enter into contracts of up to 1,000 million pesos directly with them (what is known by law as a minor amount), a door was opened so that from now on they can also be awarded minimum value contracts, over 116 million pesos.

The latter have much fewer controls and demands than the smaller ones, and what several voices point out is the contradiction between the fight against corruption and the decision of the Government and Congress to relax controls on hiring. “The Executive will be able to contract directly with non-profit entities. Who is going to control it? “Contracts” of 1,000 million pesos will be distributed throughout the country”, alerted the representative of the Christian Garcés Democratic Center.

(Keep reading: ‘If the person doesn’t want to, they don’t sell’: DNP says about ghosts of ‘expropriation’)

The Colombian Chamber of Infrastructure (CCI) was also not satisfied with what was approved and said that it represents «a harsh and historic setback» for the sector. This, because six of the articles (79, 98, 99, 277, 351 and 366) “Not only do they pave the way for the spread of corruption, but they also open a huge hole for the delivery of failed civil works to proliferate, with extremely low quality standards”.

Similarly, according to the ICC, the survival of engineering SMEs in the regions was put at riskthat it will have to compete at a disadvantage with the organizations of the ‘popular economy’, with the aggravating circumstance that the contracting of works that require high technical standards will end up in inexperienced hands.

«Taking into account that its approval limits the plurality of bidders and restricts free competition in certain contracting processes with the State -because direct contracting is promoted-, it is evident that a space is opened for corruption to enter with full hands when it comes to awarding an infrastructure project”, says the union led by Juan Martín Caicedo.

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more alerts

The alert to Senator Paloma Valencia put on the cadastral update.


@sergiioangell Weather

Senator Paloma Valencia also notes that they are going to hand over the forest reserve areas to the peasants for 30 years and that more people in the country will have to pay, because a massive cadastral update was established. «That means that the property taxes of all Colombians are going to skyrocket and that many middle-class people who were not declaring income are going to end up paying,» warned the congressman from the Democratic Center.

There was also a monkey about which Fasecolda had announced: that public sector employees will not have the possibility to choose their occupational risk administrator (ARL) and they will be awarded Mandatorily Positiva Compañía de Seguros, which is the public one. This, according to the union of insurers, would go against the principle of free competition and would create a «state monopoly».

Although not all the extraordinary powers requested from President Petro were approved, Congress did give him power for six months to modify the Families and Youth in Action programs, intervene in the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Bogotá, create a public entity to promote the improvement of local roads and adjust the Bicentennial Group, which brings together the main public financial entities in the country.

(You may be interested: What is the new PND article that seeks to protect women?)

On the other hand, Greenpeace denounced that article 227 – which orders the creation of the Zero Waste Program and opens the door to the implementation of Environmental Technology Parks (PTA), which manage waste through different ways such as incineration – could endanger public health.

There are also alerts about the article that seeks to progressively increase from 1 to 6 percent the transfers that must be paid by companies that build renewable energy projects unconventional, such as wind and solar.

“There will be no hydrocarbons or mining because neither the Minister of Mines (Irene Vélez) nor the President like it, but there will be no energy transition either because who is going to invest when taxes are increased”questioned Senator Ciro Ramírez.

“The Plan is not very ambitious: it considers average rates below 4 percent. Colombia will not be able to solve its structural employment problem with that GDP.»

Another alert is that of the creation of ‘smart tariffs’ to protect some branches of production. María Claudia Lacouture, president of the Colombian American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham Colombia), assures that could open the doors to countless international lawsuits with business partners.

«We must take into account that a tariff without operational justification generates a higher cost for the importer and also affects the pocket of Colombians, who in the end they end up assuming the burden paying for more expensive imported products, which would be very serious in a scenario of high inflation like the current one,” he said.

(More: Changes in the National Development Plan after conciliation)

At the end of the debate, criticism of the conservative growth targets also remained: “The Plan is not very ambitious: it considers average rates below 4 percent. Colombia will not be able to solve its structural employment problem with that GDP. On the other hand, has a lot of ambition in excess of spending”, affirmed the former Minister of Finance and current rector of the EIA University, José Manuel Restrepo.

The axes to which the Government points

With the approval of the road map for the next four years of the government of Gustavo Petro, which contemplates investment above 1,154 billion pesosThe efforts of this administration will focus on five axes: territorial planning, human security and social justice, food, productive transformation and climate action, and regional convergence.

The approved document includes the consolidation of the Multipurpose Cadastre (whose goal is to reach 70 percent progress in this Government) and the transition to the Territory Administration System (SAT), as well as the formalization, adjudication and regularization of land tenure with rural forest concessions, aa through the controversial article 61, which refers to the mechanisms for the purchase of land.

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One of the pillars of the plan that was approved by Congress is what the president calls ‘land planning around water and environmental justice’. On this point, articles were approved that propose inter-institutional coordination to control deforestation —3.1 million hectares of forest have been lost in the last two decades according to the Ministry of Environment—, a strategy to control wildlife trafficking and the creation of territorial water councils.

The Vice President of the Republic, Francia Márquez, arrived in Congress at dawn on May 4, while the PND conciliation was being approved.


Cesar Melgarejo / EL TIEMPO

Another of the most important changes that the Petro government roadmap brings is the creation of a transfer system to support the population in a situation of poverty and vulnerability, under the direction of the Department for Social Prosperity.

In addition, the approved project allows the firm creation of the Citizen Income program and Zero Hunger. myIn this sense, the Government’s goal is for extreme and multidimensional poverty to drop to 9.6 and 7.4, respectively, in 2026.

Regarding productive transformation and climate action, the focus will be on the renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, this, through programs that advocate electric mobility and the creation of a national emission reduction registry.

Writing Economy and Business
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