Thu. Dec 12th, 2019

NGOs demand the Guatemalan Congress correct budget against malnutrition



A group of social organizations that make up a platform called "Desigual Paradise" demanded this Sunday the Congress of Guatemala "correct" the draft budget for 2020 to strengthen the fight against malnutrition.

The organizations, among which Oxfam and the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies (Icefi) stand out, said that while almost 1 billion quetzales (about $ 124 million) were designated for secondary expenses and to strengthen the Ministry of Defense, there was hardly a minimum increase to stop malnutrition.

For the economist and in charge of the political action of Icefi, Ricardo Barrientos, spending to combat malnutrition "should increase substantially" and go from the 1.6 billion quetzals (207.7 million dollars) allocated in 2019 to various programs – according to the entity calculated, about 3,000 million quetzales (389.6 million dollars).

To combat malnutrition, this year "the State of Guatemala invested around 2.30 quetzales ($ 0.29) per day for each girl and boy," said the economist, so the proposal of Icefi, Oxfam and other entities is that "at least there is an investment of 11.90 quetzales ($ 1.50) per day for each girl or boy."

Instead, the Executive proposed an increase of just 120 million quetzals ($ 15.5 million), and even "there are cuts – in the budget proposal close to being approved – in important programs for society," Barrientos said. a press conference

According to Iván Aguilar, a member of Oxfam Guatemala, "chronic malnutrition affects almost seven out of every 10 girls and boys in Guatemala, this reduces cognitive abilities and limits the social and economic participation of society."

Nationally, chronic malnutrition affects 47 percent of the population, while the departments with the highest levels of this scourge are Totonicapán (with 70 percent), Quiché (69), Huehuetenango (68), Sololá (66), Chimaltenango (56) and Chiquimula (56), with the exception of the latter department of the east, the rest is from the west of the country.

Aguilar regretted that the 2020 budget project has allocated "955 million quetzals ($ 124 million) to secondary expenses, destined to the Ministry of National Defense, for private insurance of the Ministry of Culture and more, instead of prioritizing resources for something as urgent as malnutrition. "

According to the review made by the Icefi to the draft budget, the Executive increased about 25.9 million dollars for Defense, 9.70 million dollars to the Ministry of Agriculture, 64.9 million dollars for the return of the tax credit and 23.3 million dollars in private insurance for workers in the educational portfolio.

The activist and member of the Justice Ya Natalia Pérez group said that child malnutrition "is a structural problem" and the lack of structural solutions to address it "is due, in large measure, to the inequalities derived from the concentration of economic and political power" .

The total requested by the Government on September 2 was 91,900 million quetzals (11,935 million dollars) for fiscal year 2020, but Icefi called it the "continuity of the crisis in public finances".

A week after the Executive delivered the project, Icefi assured that there is a nominal growth in the budget ceiling of only 4.1 percent over the current one and that there was a "weakening of tax collection", as well as of a reduction in social spending

This Sunday, the Desigual Paradise organizations urged the Guatemalan Congress to take responsibility for correcting the General Budget Project of the Nation 2020 and prioritize public investment in children, since "it is urgent to fight against chronic malnutrition" and "military spending it's not a priority, "they emphasized in a statement.

In addition, they urged "all state institutions affected by budget cuts to express their disagreement, we invite the entire Guatemalan society to pronounce. Investing in childhood is doing the right thing."

. (tagsToTranslate) NGO (t) Congress (t) Guatemala (t) budget (t) malnutrition



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