EL ESPECTADOR, August 4, 2021
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
A report by the Comptroller’s Office in Colombia, issued this Wednesday, shows that, at the current rate of progress, the implementation of the Peace Agreement signed with the now-defunct guerrillas of the FARC, would not be complete until 2047, that is, in 26 years.
According to the agency, which made a detailed examination of the execution of resources in the post-conflict, in not one of the nearly five years since the Agreement was signed, have all of the budgeted funds been spent, so that, at this rate—spending an average 5.6 trillion pesos annually would take 26 years.
The figures are disagreeable. In 2017, barely 5.36 trillion pesos were spent, while 9.09 trillion pesos had been budgeted; in 2018, 4.21 trillion pesos, with 8.62 trillion pesos available. In 2019, 6.31 trillion pesos were spent with 8.55 trillion pesos available; and last year, 6.53 trillion pesos were spent, while 8.38 trillion pesos had been budgeted. This year funds on the order of 5.67 trillion pesos have been spent, out of the 8.8 trillion pesos that had been allocated.
“Even though the spending of budgeted funds up to now shows an average annual increase of 5% since the signing of the Agreement, the progress in implementation is still insufficient to carry out what had been planned in the Implementation Framework Plan,” explained the control agency.
The Comptroller’s Office pointed out that, between 2017 and 2020, they spent 22.4 trillion pesos. That would be 65% of the amount budgeted in the Medium Range Fiscal Framework for the four-year period. Besides that, it showed 15% progress toward the total cost of 146.7 trillion pesos.
The report also notes that the largest part of the funds spent in 2020 were oriented to Point 1 of the Agreement, which refers to the Integrated Rural Reform (RRI in Spanish), and to Point 4, on the solution of the drug problem. This year, 74.2% of the funds have been allocated to Point 1, while the budget for point 4 only reaches 0.2%.
With regard to the Peace component of 42 trillion pesos for 2020, 18.5 trillion pesos had been spent as of March 2021. Than means only 44% of what had been budgeted for the four years. It’s estimated that the National Budget has leveraged 71% of the implementation of the Final Agreement, including the funds projected for 2021. Other sources of financing are the General System of Contributions (SGP in Spanish), allocations by the regional and local authorities, international cooperation, and the private sector.
For the Comptroller’s Office, there is a risk of underfinancing the implementation because of the lack of guidelines for the use of funds that come from the General System of Contributions (SGP), which is the source of funding that supports the regional and local authorities. “We continue to call attention to the need to reform Statute 715 of 2001, so that the SGP can give effective support to the Integrated Rural Reform (RRI),” stated the agency.
According to the agency, there are evident deficiencies in the planning and execution for funds from OCAD PAZ (Colombia’s Agency for the Renewal of the Countryside). An audit of accomplishment conducted by the Comptroller’s Office detected fiscal issues totaling more than 11 trillion pesos. Furthermore, the agency warns of the risk of underfinancing the implementation of the land registries. “The Land Fund, the principal instrument for the support of this policy, does not have the financial resources for the purchase or subsidy of land parcels.”
The Comptroller’s Office also established that the properties turned over by the FARC have been valued at 42.680 billion pesos and there are others that could be valued at 25.924 billion pesos
“The government has been responsible, diligent, and efficient.”
In response to the Comptroller’s Office report, the Counselor for Stabilization and Consolidation, Emilio Archila, defended the government’s progress. He pointed out that replies by the reviewing agencies and the communities in the countryside “are serious and verifiable.”
According to Archila, the achievements by the administration in fulfillment and execution of budgeted funds that guarantee implementation are “significant”. “Building on what the needs were, we obtained a focus on all participants: the country, the provinces, the international community, and the private sector.”
Archila defended by saying that “we progressed from the budgetary fantasy to the reality of execution.” He explained that this administration had received a projection of what it would need to be able to carry out the implementation. “We started with hardly any funds and without any clarity in the planning,” he maintained.
“We have gotten a lot done on all fronts, with funding for specific activities such as the complete reparations for victims (3.2 trillion pesos); in the (Programs for Development with a Territorial Focus (PDET), (more than 8 trillion for investment); support for reincorporation for former FARC combatants, ($804 billion pesos)); Rural Development and support for 100,000 families for substitution of illegal plantings,” (1.3 trillion pesos) added Counselor Archila.