Chile plans to raise public spending by just 3.5% next year, less than in 2023, as the government struggles to move past political tensions and deliver on its key policy proposals.
(Bloomberg) — Chile plans to raise public spending by just 3.5% next year, less than in 2023, as the government struggles to move past political tensions and deliver on its key policy proposals.
President Gabriel Boric said late on Thursday that the 2024 budget will prioritize areas including public security, health care, education and housing. Inflation will end this year at about 4% after fiscal responsibility helped stabilize the post-pandemic economy, he said.
“The year 2024 will be marked by the revival of the economy, and this budget seeks to accompany that revival by putting the people first,” Boric said in a televised speech. The government is working so that the Chile’s inhabitants can enjoy “more public security, economic security and social security.”
Boric called on the fragmented Congress to advance talks on his marquee proposals, including an overhaul of tax and pension systems. But the tepid spending rise highlights his left-wing administration’s limited ability to transform the role of the state as it reins in deficits, while the divided legislature blocks major changes that would have raised more revenue. The bill will be sent to lawmakers Friday.
Read more: Chile’s Boric Shuffles Cabinet Amid Graft Probe, Low Support
In the budget, expenditures will rise less than this year’s 4.2% gain as the administration tries to strike a balance between spending to address rising crime and a healthcare crisis, and the need to control above-target inflation. The 2024 budget will be the first to include income from a new mining royalty, Finance Minister Mario Marcel told press earlier this month.
Last year, Chile recorded a budget surplus for the first time in a decade as it cut spending and reined in much of the pandemic-era cash transfers.
In 2024, health care spending will rise by 8.1%, while expenditure on housing jumps 12% as the administration advances in its plan to build 260,000 new residencies during Boric’s term in office. Public security spending will rise 5.7%, while education outlays increase 4.2%, the president said.
The proposal comes as just 26% of voters back Boric while 55% disapprove of the president, according to a Data Influye poll published this week. The survey identified crime and the economy as top issues undermining his support.
Chile’s GDP will contract 0.2% this year, the worst performance in South America after Argentina, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Economic growth is expected to bounce back to 2% in 2024.
Read more: Chile’s Marcel Signals Hard Economic Adjustments Are Nearly Done
Annual inflation stood at 5.3% in August, down from a three-decade high of 14.1% a year before.
(Updates to say the budget proposals will be presented to Congress on Friday in the fourth paragraph.)
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