Sunday 10 December 2023

No National Census in 2022!

The Treasury did not authorize an increase in the budget to finance the study with its own reserve funds, due to the limits of the fiscal rule, the entity explained.

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QCOSTARICA – The Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC) – National Institute of Statistics and Censuses  – reported that it will not carry out the National Census in 2022, as planned, given that the Ministry of Finance denied it authorization to increase its budget.

The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses attributed to the limits in the budget the absence of resources to finance the conduct of the census. Photo: Downtown San Jose

The application of the fiscal rule contemplated in Law No. 9635 (Law of Strengthening of Public Finances), prevents the execution of spending beyond the limit established year by year for the institution and makes it totally unfeasible to carry out the National Census of Population and Housing, declared the entity, in a statement.

For the fiscal year 2022, this rule is 1.96%; which implies that the amount of total budgeted expenses cannot exceed that percentage with respect to the 2021 spending plan.

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The measure also affects the application of the Economic Study of Companies and the National Survey of Time Use, all scheduled for 2022 and with the availability of resources.

The Vice Minister of Finance Expenditures, Isaac Castro, repeated that this ministry cannot free the INEC from the so-called fiscal rule.

“The Ministry of Finance is respectful of the current legislation approved by the Legislative Assembly. With the approval of Law 9635 (Law for the Strengthening of Public Finances), it was defined, in Title IV, as the scope of application of the regulations related to fiscal responsibility, to all entities that make up the non-financial public sector, among which is the INEC,” Castro explained

“Regarding these norms – he added – this ministry has the powers of verification and monitoring, not of exempting any public entity from their compliance. The same law is the one that establishes the exceptions, therefore, to expand them, the Legislative Assembly must be resorted to”.

This would be the second time that the census has been suspended since it was initially supposed to be done in 2021, however, a cut in this year’s budget truncated those plans.

The steps to obtain the authorization of the investment in these studies have been carried out since 2020 before the Treasury, as well as before the Presidency and the Ministry of Planning, argued the Institute. “Unfortunately there has been no political will,” it emphasized.

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The INEC warned in the statement that since the country does not have census information, and that of other statistical operations, the repercussions could be very negative, mainly in view of the recovery from the post-pandemic economic and social crisis.

It argued that one of the consequences will be with the national private sector, which will not have inputs that allow them to develop business and investment strategies with a view to economic reactivation.

According to the INEC, external investors will be in the same situation and there is a risk that, to the low economic ratings of international organizations, it is added that these entities will not be able to have figures on the national reality to assess the social environment.

A direct consequence said that INEC would be the dismissal of 150 people, thus increasing the national unemployment statistics.

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The next government will not have updated figures either and the commitments made in the 2030 Agenda related to the Sustainable Development Goals, at the local level, and international organizations, including the Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the United Nations (UN), could not be followed up, stated the INEC.

With the OECD, the country undertook to carry out the population and housing census in 2021, in accordance with the frequency of the censuses established by Law number 9694, but it also has the commitment to apply the fiscal rule.

The entity in charge of the country’s statistics insisted, in its report, that it has the necessary resources to finance the census and other products included in the Pluriannual Plan for Statistical Production. He added that, therefore, it is not requesting that it be exempted from the fiscal rule or requesting an additional budget.

The INEC announced this month, before Hacienda’s denial of budget increases, that it would hire about 14,500 people for data collection.

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