Through the Colombia Responde program, Global Communities/CHF is helping the local the municipalities of El Carmen de Bolivar, San Jacinto, San Onofre and Ovejas to implement an institutional strengthening process to increase their financial capacity. This is occurring as part of the National Consolidation Policy set down by the government of Colombia to guide local government modernization.
Colombia Responde was able to influence changes to the definition of the national Law based on an assessment completed in Montes de María on the municipalities’ fiscal situation. This assessment found that some seizures were the result of irregular processes or retention of indefeasible resources, in addition to debts to national entities. The assessment also found that municipalities bear concession contracts that generate long-term obligations, resulting in serious detriments to their budgets. All these elements were included in the law as tools for the municipalities’ legal defenses.
Beyond having a regional benefit, this new law represents an achievement for the 600 municipalities currently facing financial crisis. The municipalities are subject to the following three national new statutes:
- First, the law establishes reconciliation as a mandatory process which allows municipalities an opportunity to propose a payment plan before a judge to order the seizure.
- The second statute allows national entities to decrease the debt to local gov ernments.
- The third authorizes mayors to request concession contract revisions when they are too expensive, significantly deteriorating municipal budgets.
Since the law was approved on July 6, 2012, these municipalities have not faced other embargos, allowing them to more effectively manage their resources. The proceedings against municipalities have been suspended, and the municipalities are going through reconciliation processes. Additionally, Colombia Responde is designing an action plan for the effective use of all the tools granted by the law.