Lawmakers in Paraguay rejected Tuesday President Horacio Cartes' plans to make cuts to health and education as a part of the country's 2018 General Budget Law.
The senate rejected the plans, which proposed massive cuts in funding to health, education and other programs, after the House of Representatives voted against them a few hours earlier.
The lower chamber rejected the veto proposed by President Cartes with 44 votes against, three more votes than the simple majority needed. With representatives in the upper chamber agreeing with the move and voting to keep the 2018 General Budget Law in its latest version.
The move was celebrated by workers, who had gathered outside the congress building to protest the cuts since it would lead to salary increases for some sectors of the public service.
The Paraguayan constitution enables the congress to veto the president if both chambers agree on any piece of legalization and forces the president into the position of only being able to publish and enact it.
Following the vote, the document will be sent “to the Executive Branch for all relevant purposes”, President of the Congress Fernando Lugo announced shortly after.
Cartes partially vetoed the law on Dec. 29 because of an “imbalance” of US$40 million assigned to education, health and state-owned companies, according to the treasury department. The president also stated that the deficit would increase to US$87 million and proposed that the shortfall be filled with increased or new taxes.
The representative from the Colorado Party, Clemente Barrios, who was against the decision stated that "Senate has adopted decisions (of House of Representatives) without taking into account technical studies," of the treasury department and charged that the move was fiscally irresponsible.
Jose Maria Ibanez, the spokesperson of the dissenting faction of the Colorado Party, the Movement Anetete, said the income increase was “necessary, viable, sensible and reasonable”, rejecting claims of it being an electoral or populist measure.
With this outcome, the representatives ratified the budget increase on education by 4 percent more than in the initial law suggested. This will give teachers an increased income of 16 percent for the new year instead of 12 percent. The most substantial increase will, however, go to the health sector, which will see a 30 percent increase over what was originally proposed.
Employees of the National Electricity Administration that earn less than 11.8 millions guaranies, about US$2,100, will now make approximately 600,000 guaranies more, approximately US$107. Workers at the Cement National Industry will receive an increase of 12 percent more.