Guatemala’s congress has shelved a proposed budget that would have cut spending on healthcare and education after it sparked massive, violent anti-government protests in the country.
Demonstrators set fire to the Congress building in Guatemala City on Saturday as they protested against President Alejandro Giammattei and the legislature for negotiating the 2021 budget in secret and approving it.
The budget, which increases public debts and cuts funding for healthcare, education, human rights and the justice system to increase lawmakers’ meal stipends instead, angered people as it came while Guatemala recovers from back-to-back hurricanes and tries to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The president of the Congress said on Sunday that the process of approving the 2021 budget, whihch was to be signed off by the president, had been suspended “in order to maintain the governability of the country and social peace.”
The 2021 budget will now be based on the 2020 spending plan, which allocates additional spending to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy, Reuters reported.
Guatemala has reported more than 4,000 deaths and almost 120,000 cases of COVID-19.