The Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed in a second and final round of voting the 2014 national budget for ₡6.6 trillion ($13.1 billion).
The amount is equivalent to 24.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) – estimated at $45.1 billion in 2013 – and represents a 3.1 percent increase over the 2013 budget. Approved at ₡6.4 trillion, that 2013 budget was 7.5 percent higher than that in 2012.
A majority of 27 lawmakers voted in favor while 19 voted against. Costa Rica’s Constitution requires lawmakers to approve the national budget by Nov. 30.
Lawmakers from the Libertarian Movement Party and the Citizen Action Party voted against, taking issue with how the budget stipulates that 42.7 percent of government spending next year will be financed by loans.
Social Christian Unity Party representatives also voted against the budget because the amount allocated for education will be of 7.2 percent of GDP, while the country’s Constitution establishes that it should be at least 8 percent.
Although it did not meet the 8 percent requirement, education accounts for the largest chunk of the spending, as the budget assigned 29.1 percent to that area, followed by 10.6 percent for public sector pensions, 5.3 percent for the Judicial Branch, 5.2 percent for the Labor Ministry and 4.5 percent for the Public Works and Transport Ministry.
The spending plan allocates some 50 percent of the budget for social sectors including education, health, housing, culture and recreation.