SANTIAGO – Chilean President Sebastián Piñera on Tuesday presented the 2019 national budget, which focuses on the priorities of Chileans, such as citizen security, more jobs, better salaries, improved healthcare, and quality education.
The president clarified that the budget for next year will have an increase of 3.2% – the lowest level of expansion in eight years – with respect to that presented the previous year by Michelle Bachelet, with a strong emphasis on social improvements. The increase in public spending for 2019 is lower than the 3.9 percent approved this year.
Nuestra misión es transformar Chile en país desarrollado y sin pobreza. #Presupuesto2019, con alza de 3,2% respecto 2018 y reducción déficit fiscal en línea con nuestras metas, pone foco en crecimiento, empleo, seguridad, infancia, educación, salud, clase media y adultos mayores
— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) September 26, 2018
In a broadcast statement, Piñera said the trade war between the United States and China, which has contributed to uncertainty in the global economy, has impacted Chile by driving down the price of copper, the country’s main export, and pushing up oil prices and interest rates.
“We are aware that we inherited a difficult economic situation, with a country that was growing very weak, with an unsustainable deficit in fiscal accounts and with a public debt that had doubled in the last 4 years.
“And, on the other hand, the trade war between the United States and China, added to the greater uncertainties of the world economy, have affected us through a lower price of copper, a higher price of oil and higher interest rates.
“However, none of these difficulties has weakened us, much less diverted from our objective of recovering our ability to grow, to create good jobs, to improve wages, to invest and to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship,” the president said.
“This is how the Chilean economy grew 5.3% real during the last quarter, more than three times what it grew during the previous government. Investment and productivity, after 4 consecutive years of decline, are again growing at around 5% and 3%, respectively, and job creation now reaches 173,000 new jobs a year, and with a significant improvement in their quality, because they are under contract, with social security, with unemployment insurance, with stability,” he added.
Piñera said “this law seeks to concentrate the efforts of the State and the Government on the great priorities of Chileans, who are at the heart of our Government’s priorities, such as citizen security, the creation of good jobs, the improvement of salaries, the improvement in the quality of health and education”.
“And this budget also points to a new and better deal with our middle class, through the creation of new and better opportunities for progress and the implementation of the Medium Protected Class Network, to support our middle sectors in the face of accidents in the cycle of life such as the loss of employment, a serious illness, the high cost of higher education, an act of delinquency or an extended and vulnerable old age,” he further said.
According to the Chilean head of the state, the Budget 2019 also aims at a new deal with our women, through greater equality of rights and dignities, and a greater and better harmony between the world of work and the family world.“The new Budget also seeks to recover the health of our public accounts, reducing the fiscal deficit and freezing the growth of public debt as a percentage of our GDP,” Piñera said in a statement.
In terms of security, the Budget focuses on the modernization of the Carabineros, on the increase in the number and police presence in the neighborhoods of Chile, on the incorporation of state-of-the-art technology and on the strengthening of intelligence work.
In the field of childhood, to put the first children in line, the Budget aims to replace the old and failed “Sename” by two new and modern public services, responsible for protecting vulnerable children and rehabilitating young offenders of the law.
In terms of health, the budget favors the reduction of waiting lists, the reduction in the price of medicines, the strengthening of the hospital infrastructure, including a modern Digital Hospital, a greater resolutive capacity in our primary care, the increase in the medical specialists and the advance towards a new culture, a culture of healthy life, strengthening the Choose Healthy Living Program.
In the field of education, the Budget focuses on improving the quality of education at all levels, strengthening early education, completing 360 Bicentennial Schools of Excellence, modernizing professional technical education and a profound reform of our training system, not only expanding the coverage towards SMEs, but improving their impact to improve wages and productivity of our workers.
In terms of growth, employment and salaries, the budget reinforces that capacity that we need so much to create more and better jobs, to improve wages, to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and to prepare our society to fully incorporate the new Knowledge Society and the Information and also to the 4th Technological Revolution, which is already knocking at our doors and which, while offering magnificent opportunities, also represent formidable risks.
In the coming days, the Minister of Finance and other ministers, together with the President, will announce all the relevant information of this Budget, which will undoubtedly be analyzed by the Congress during the months of October and November.
In May, finance minister Felipe Larrain had announced the government would slash a total of $4.6 billion from its budget through 2021 in an effort to return the country to “fiscal responsibility”.