Arguing over the budget: Guatemala sounds a lot like the U.S.

Guatemalan politicians have been scrambling to approve the 2014 budget for the past few months. Things don’t look good. Yesterday, after a week of closed door meetings internal party, it was reported that nobody was even talking, let alone negotiating. Some people have suggested that the government has presented a budget that they knew would be rejected, which would just mean that they would be bound by the 2013 budget.

In the two main papers, Prensa Libre and elPeriodico, there are daily op-eds and editorials lamenting the ballooning debt and the unrealistic budget proposals (sound familiar?). The problem is that Guatemala’s debt is relatively small (public debt stands at 25%, lowest in the region) and the budget is one of the smallest in the world (as a percentage of GDP) and the smallest in Latin America.

The budget is 15% of GDP. In Central America the average is between 19-20% of GDP.  So year after year, Guatemala is falling behind. Less economic and social investment, likely cuts to medicine, school books and nutrition programs. But hey, they are asking to increase the government’s advertising budget by 80%.

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