Budgets: austerity or political aversion? 2023/11/12

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By Jaime Rivera Velázquez*

This week, the Chamber of Deputies approved the Federation Expenditure Budget for the year 2024, with 262 votes in favor, 216 against and one abstention (from Morena). The legislators obeyed their respective party line, so that all the votes in favor came from the Morena, PT and PVEM benches, while the votes against were from the PAN, PRI, PRD and MC. The expenditure budgets of recent years are those that have received the lowest number of votes in favor of the last twenty years, as a result of the policy of the majority bench of not agreeing with the opposition on any modification to the Executive project.

The Expenditure Budget approved for 2024 amounts to 9.06 billion pesos, an increase of 368 billion pesos compared to what was approved in 2023. This economic package will imply a budget deficit of 1.69 billion pesos (4.9% of the GDP), 500 billion more than the deficit approved for 2023. And if the “Financial Requirements of the Public Sector” for 2024 are considered, debt represents 5.4% of GDP, a record level in decades. It cannot be said that it is an austere budget.

However, the approved budget contains significant decreases in some branches compared to the original project. The vast majority of downward adjustments are carried out by the Judicial Branch, the Legislative Branch and autonomous bodies such as the INE, Inai or Cofece. Thus, the Judicial Branch had its budget reduced by 7.6 percent, the Inai by 6.1 percent, and the INE by 13.2 percent. Of the latter, if we leave aside the precautionary budget for an eventual popular consultation, the net reduction is 6 percent.

In contrast, the administrative branches of the federal government only had an adjustment of 0.2 percent. Furthermore, there are considerable increases in the subsidy to Pemex and in cash transfers to population groups (scholarships and pensions). The so-called “republican austerity” is selective. Rather than saving public money, it seems that the aim is to weaken institutions that, thanks to their autonomy, stop possible abuses of power.

At the same time, no item was approved to help those affected by the hurricane. Otis nor to the reconstruction of Acapulco and its surroundings, despite the National Fund for Natural Disasters Trust having expired in November 2020. If the resources allocated to the victims are diluted in general government spending, their effective availability and even less transparency will not be guaranteed.

The budget approved to the INE for 2024 implies the highest cut in its history in an election year. Excluding the prerogatives for political parties and the precautionary item for a popular consultation, the “regular budget” requested by the INE was 23,757 million pesos. From this amount, the majority of the Chamber of Deputies reduced 1,434 million pesos, equivalent to 6 percent of what was requested. The budget for 2018 suffered a decrease of 800 million, 4.4 percent less than requested; In 2021, the adjustment amounted to 870 million, 4.3 percent less than required.

It is hardly responsible to impose a budget reduction of that magnitude on the INE in a year in which elections for the Presidency, Senate and Chamber of Deputies are going to be held, as well as local elections in the 32 states. And this is more serious because, as has happened in recent years, the Chamber of Deputies mutilated the budget requested by the INE without giving a technical or financial justification. Given the constitutional controversies that the INE has promoted in previous years in defense of its budget, in 2022 the Supreme Court of Justice determined the invalidity of the budget that was assigned to it, because the Chamber “did not strongly motivate the modification of the preliminary project presented by said Institute ; Such adjustment – ​​the Court considered – compromises the functions of that constitutional body… which could translate into a violation of fundamental rights of an electoral political nature.” In the exercise of its autonomy, the INE must reassess the path of constitutional controversy.

Of course, given the cuts, the INE will give the highest priority to effectively organizing the elections with all the guarantees of cleanliness, impartiality and equity. But his mere will is not enough. It will have to affect and even cancel some projects and activities that allow elections with the usual quality.

As has been seen over the last five years, the approval of budgets is not governed only by criteria of economic rationality and public finances, but by a marked political aversion to bodies that were created or reformed in the period of democratic transition. to guarantee human rights and limit the discretion of power.

*INE Advisor

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Nathan Rivera
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Nathan Rivera, a dedicated journalist who has had the privilege of writing for the online newspaper Today90. My journey in the world of journalism has been a testament to the power of dedication, integrity, and passion.

My story began with a relentless thirst for knowledge and an innate curiosity about the events shaping our world. I graduated with honors in Investigative Journalism from a renowned university, laying the foundation for what would become a fulfilling career in the field.

What sets me apart is my unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth. I refuse to settle for superficial answers or preconceived narratives. Instead, I constantly challenge the status quo, delving deep into complex issues to reveal the reality beneath the surface. My dedication to investigative journalism has uncovered numerous scandals and shed light on issues others might prefer to ignore.

I am also a staunch advocate for press freedom. I have tirelessly fought to protect the rights of journalists and have faced significant challenges in my quest to inform the public truthfully and without constraints. My courage in defending these principles serves as an example to all who believe in the power of journalism to change the world.

Throughout my career, I have been honored with numerous awards and recognitions for my outstanding work in journalism. My investigations have changed policies, exposed corruption, and given a voice to those who had none. My commitment to truth and justice makes me a beacon of hope in a world where misinformation often prevails.

At Today90, I continue to be a driving force behind journalistic excellence. My tireless dedication to fair and accurate reporting is an invaluable asset to the editorial team. My biography is a living testament to the importance of journalism in our society and a reminder that a dedicated journalist can make a difference in the world.