Senate postpones passing budget

The PLD-majority Senate announced it was postponing to Friday, 4 January the studying of the 2008 National Budget Bill. The Fernandez administration sent the bill to Congress on 22 December. It was promptly passed in the Chamber of Deputies without any changes. The president of the Senate, Reinaldo Pared Perez announced the majority of PLD senators agreed to send the bill to the Permanent Budget Commission for study.

Meanwhile, Cristian Paredes, spokesman for the PRD opposition party, criticized yesterday that the bill includes US$640 million in new loans or RD$22 billion. He questioned the priority of several international loans, including a US$21 million loan to modernize the Ministry of Hacienda, US$10 million to modernize the Department of Statistics, US$93 million to purchase Brazilian airplanes, US$70 million to finish the Guaigui dam, among others. He also criticized that the Santo Domingo metro construction will receive RD$12 billion, while the government is allotting RD$6 billion to the Ministry of Agriculture.

By Dominican law, if the budget is not approved by year’s end, the government will operate using the previous year’s budget. Surpluses will be at the discretion of the Executive Branch.

There are 32 senators, of these 22 represent the ruling PLD party, 6 the PRD and 4 the PRSC.