The presidential contest has put in the center of the debate the changes that the economic system requires in matters such as taxes, pensions, labor market, among others. And the candidates are already talking about the different reforms that they would put on the table: a new tax reform, an overturn in the pension system and changes in foreign policy, as some of the issues on the agenda.
However, from the academy, a call was made not to leave aside inputs that have analyzed the structural needs of the Colombian system, and it is even pointed out that there have been very few changes after these studies. From the Faculty of Economics of the Universidad de los Andes, they reviewed eight missions of experts and special commissions carried out in the last decade, and they are suggested as a starting point that the candidates should take to start moving towards structural reforms.
Ten years ago, for example, the results of the 2012 Equity and Social Mobility Mission were presented. There, according to the Faculty’s document, there are concrete actions aimed at strengthening public policy on seven fronts: early childhood, quality basic and secondary education, job training, evaluation and planning of public social spending, equity and diversity, regional inequity, and access to and use of rural land.
In 2015, the Mission for the transformation of the countryside arrived, with an analysis of the conflicts in the use of the land, the high concentration and informality in this area, in addition to the inappropriate use of the land and the low protection and regulation of natural resources. .
In the fiscal environment, there is the 2017 Public Expenditure and Investment Commission, the 2021 Territorial Tax System Study Commission and the 2021 Commission of Experts on Tax Benefits.
The first, according to the authors of the ‘Macroeconomic Note’, focused on issues such as budget, public employment, the purchasing system and public taxation. Also in litigation against the State, and public spending in areas such as health, pensions, education and subsidies.
The second focused more on the decentralization of collection and local and regional taxes, and how this management could be optimized, while the third delved into elements that discourage entrepreneurs, fiscal problems, and the need for structural reform.
Another great commission that was reviewed was the 2019 Mission of the Wise, which presented recommendations in areas such as environment, heto technology, education, productivity, competitiveness, opportunities, and around equity.
Among the most recent missions is also the Internationalization Mission of last year, which identifies the country’s main challenges in this area as the technological gap and low participation in global value chains. And there is also the Employment Mission that delivered its conclusions this year, which issued a diagnosis of the main flaws in the Colombian labor system, from its social security model, wages and formality levels, and calls for structural reform.
For Andrés Álvarez, professor at the Faculty of Economics of the Andes and one of the authors of the publication ‘You don’t have to start from scratch, and ensures that each mission “is connected to the other missions. They all connect with each other, the internationalization mission points to a improvement in productivity, the tax mission is going to be fundamental for the new social pact that would be needed to change the rules of the social security game, and all the missions have something to do with each other”, explains the academic.
Likewise, another of the authors of the document, the teacher Hernando Zuleta, ensures that “for this new social contract to be possible, a series of reforms are required, however, these will not be legitimate, nor will they be possible, unless there is a series of sufficiently broad consensus and for this reason it is essential that all the candidates clearly and a high level of detail all its proposals. The invitation is to discuss these general problems of the country and how each candidate is going to address them”.
However, the balance against hosting missions and its level of implementation has not been good. Compared to how much the recommendations of the experts in our system have been accepted “The answer is: Very little!Alvarez asks.
“In general, there has even been little discussion in the public debate. In the press they are mentioned at the time, but no politician takes them seriously. Perhaps in this campaign a couple of things came out but disjointed. Alejandro Gaviria was a member of the equity and social mobility mission, and for this reason he got some ideas from there, but not much else“, it says.
However, the economist assures that the one that had the intention of receiving more directly was the OECD tax mission. “At least on paper, it was part of the inspiration for Carrasquilla’s failed tax reform.”, but he assures that even some important messages from that mission were not included.
The document recognizes, however, that there are two elements that make it difficult to approve reforms: interest groups with the power to affect public policy decisions, and the fragile economic conditions in our country, which “increases the crisis of trust between political groups, social organizations, and citizens”.
LAURA LUCIA BECERRA ELEJALDE