Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Defense, Police Budgets to Increase 3% in 2018

Chile's defense budget is getting a 3% increase for 2018, to roughly $2.9 billion under currency exchange rates. That sum covers operational costs, payroll, vehicles, equipment, funds for military-owned companies and other expenses, but it excludes main weapons systems. Those are financed from a 10% tax on sales by the state-owned copper mining giant Codelco, which can greatly increase the military's purchasing power. Several billion dollars are believed to be socked away in that fund. But for the Army, Navy and Air Force, a total of $1.94 billion is budgeted, which is a drop of 0.5% from this year's outlays. Chile's police force is budgeted for a 2.7% increase for 2018, to about $1.8 billion in U.S. currency. The budget includes funds for 1,500 additional carabineros, replacement of 250 patrol vehicles and infrastructural improvements. The investigative arm (Policia de Investigaciones) is getting a 1.6% hike in expenditures to $507 million. That includes money for 1,200 more investigators. Chile's most serious security problems are internal, and it's the police agencies that are shouldering the burden of combating those. Police are battling a violent indigenous movement in the south, drug and auto crime along the Bolivian border, and sporadic attacks by anarchists and other extremists. The budget has been introduced in the legislature, which must pass it into law. But while the outgoing administration of President Michelle Bachelet crafted the spending plan, a new administration is taking office in March and will inherit the new budget.