Guatemala has suspended the final ratification process for the 2021 budget after its approval by lawmakers sparked violent protests at the weekend and attacks on the legislature, the president of the Congress of Guatemala, Allan Rodriguez, has said.
Congressional leaders met on Sunday to discuss the budget, which foresaw cuts to spending on health, education and human rights, and an increase in public debt.
“In order to maintain the governability of the country and social peace, we’ve agreed to suspend the process of approving the revenue and spending plans for the 2021 budget,” Rodriguez said on congressional social media on Monday.
Instead, next year’s budget will be based on the 2020 spending plan. That puts it 8.2 billion quetzals ($1bn) above the sum that had been proposed for 2021, and includes additional spending to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
The Central American country has recorded COVID-19 4,076 deaths and nearly 120,000 infections.
Before the meeting, the Guatemalan government called on the Organization of American States (OAS) to help facilitate dialogue between political forces after warning that some minority groups were seeking to carry out a coup.
Guatemala is also coping with the effects of two major hurricanes that battered Central America during the past month, affecting more than 350,000 people in the country.