Rights groups have expressed concern over a proposed 15% decrease in funding for human rights issues in the 2017 budget.
According to the draft budget bill presented by Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay, the Human Rights Secretariat will receive $110m less than it was assigned in 2016. This nominal figure does not include the impact of inflation, which would further reduce the value of those resources in real terms.
According to Página 12, the biggest spending cut of nearly 50% is for the programme which provides survivors and families of victims of crimes against humanity with juridical care. There will also be an end to the transfer of funds to provinces to promote ex-clandestine detention centres as memorial sites.
In an interview with Página 12 Horacio Pietragalla, the former head of the National Memorial Archive, said that “These past 10 months of Macri show us the panorama of the future. Human rights are not a priority and neither is education, health or any other social area.”
The government claims that the cuts are due to over-estimates of resources directed towards these programmes under the previous government.
Paula Bertol, the secretary of parliamentary relations and administration for Macri’s PRO party said of the budget: “for the first time in a decade, Argentines have a trustworthy budget, adjusted to the real necessities of our society and with a wide consensus.”
Bertol underlined that the country now has a “tuned compass to reorganise the economy and return to normality.”
Scientists have also warned about a reduction in spending proposed for 2017. The draft budget only delegate 0.6% of total expenditure to the Ministry of Science and Technology, whereas the budget allocation oscillated between 0.7% and 0.8% between 2009 and 2016.
The Board of Directors of the faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of UBA released a resolution saying “the budget of the ministry has been cut by almost $1bn, which represents a reduction of 32.5% in respect to the budget of 2016.”
The minister for Science, Technology, and Productive Innovation, Lino Barañao told Perfil that he “understood” the concerns of the science community and expressed hope that the numbers would be adjusted in the final budget law.
Last Thursday, 12 officials from the Ministry of Agroindustry resigned over proposed budget cuts to small-scale “family agriculture”.
The Advice Council to Family Agriculture called the 2017 budget effectively a “death sentence” because the best case scenario “it will incorporate $195m for a sector which since 2015 has required more than $1.5bn to achieve the historical reparation that the law proposes.”
The budget is due to be debated in Congress at the start of November, with the government hoping that the final law will be approved towards the end of the month.
In the budget draft, the projected GDP growth for 2017 is 3.5% (up from an estimated -1.5% this year), with inflation forecast to come between 12% and 17%.