Lights and shadows in the balance of the Congress

Lights and shadows in the balance of the Congress
Lights and shadows in the balance of the Congress

The Congress’s term of office that just ended on June 20 left us with a mixed balance, with lights and shadows that deserve to be analyzed.

The pension reform, agrarian jurisdiction, the 14th monthly allowance for the military forces, the prohibition of bullfights, the VAT-free day, and the authorization of indebtedness are now laws of the republic; while the health and education reform projects were left by the wayside. In addition, the process of the labor reform advanced with the approval in the Seventh Commission of the House of Representatives.

Among technicians, it is an almost unanimous conclusion: pension reform is a necessary change. That is why it is evident that this is the most significant thing in this legislature to transform the current system into four pillars: solidarity, semi-contributory, contributory and voluntary savings. However, its approval was not free of controversy because the House of Representatives decided to accept the text approved by the Senate at a “pupitrazo” (pupitrazo). In the reform, the public system administered by Colpensiones will be the main protagonist, absorbing a significant number of new affiliates. However, there are serious doubts about the operational capacity of Colpensiones, given that it currently faces problems in the management of applications; and the data from the Comptroller’s Office indicate that there are serious challenges ahead.

Some analysts agree that the Constitutional Court’s review may have consequences. Furthermore, before it comes into force in 2025, there will be lawsuits from some dissidents.

The approval of the agrarian jurisdiction and the 14th installment are achievements that cannot be overlooked. The former establishes a legal framework for carrying out an agrarian reform that can resolve land conflicts, a crucial issue in a country where the dispute over land has been a source of violence and inequality. The 14th installment, for its part, represents a relief for retired military personnel, although its long-term sustainability has raised doubts.

Congress owes its debt to the reforms in health and education, because they were the great absentees of this legislature. The health reform was an ambitious project that promised to profoundly transform the health system, but it was left in limbo. This is not only a setback for the government, but a loss for the citizens who continue to wait for improvements in a vital sector. The same can be said of the educational reform, an urgent need in a country where the quality of education is uneven and often deficient, but there was greater weight outside Congress through the Fecode union to avoid said reform. And in the meantime, we will continue to be at the bottom of the PISA tests.

The VAT-free day and the labor reform are a timely decision, as they represent opportunities to boost the economy and improve working conditions. The labor reform is still alive thanks to the approval in its first debate. With the VAT-free day, it is expected that more than two million Colombians will benefit by buying some products at a cheaper price, boosting the commercial and productive sector.

Political control and votes of no confidence were a reflection of tensions between the government and the opposition, and the constant struggle for power in Congress. The defense minister faced an attempt by the opposition to remove him from office, questioning the minister’s management of crucial issues such as security and peace, while the government defended its achievements in the fight against drug trafficking.

As can be seen from a simple analysis, the legislature that just ended left a mixed balance, because important progress was made in some areas, and necessary reforms were also pending. We hope that in the next legislature these pending issues will be addressed and work will continue for the benefit of Colombian society.

EXACTLY. Another analysis must refer to the controversy created by the UNGRD corruption scandal in which the presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives have been mentioned because they supposedly received money for the execution of contracts.

And as the philosopher of La Junta said: “I’ll leave them there…” @LColmenaresR

Luis Alonso Colmenares Rodriguez


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