Bulletin Real Time: Latest News
1. Historic: First vaccine administered in Colombia.
A nurse in the Caribbean region of Sincelejo was the first Colombian to be vaccinated in the country. The original plan had been to begin the nationwide vaccination program on Saturday (February 20), but things have moved faster. Sincelejo and Montería began vaccinating today. Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga and Cartagena begin tomorrow. And other areas will begin their vaccinations on Friday and Saturday. The first 50,000 doses of the vaccine created by Pfizer are targeted to front-line health workers. A second batch of 50,000 arrives on February 24 with the same purpose. There is also unconfirmed information about sending 192,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine straight to Leticia in an attempt to reduce the risk of the Brazilian strain from spreading further into Colombia.
2. Removal of mobilization restrictions.
The measure of “Pico and Cédula” established that individuals could attend certain establishments depending on the last digit of their ID number. If that number is odd, they could enter on odd days of the week. If the number is even, they could enter on odd days of the week. Now, this measure issued in the midst of the first and second peek of the pandemic, have been overturned to promote the reactivation of business and allow further recovery from the devastating social and economic impact of Covid 19. Likewise, the basis to suspend Pico and Cédula in both cities was the reduction in the occupancy of ICU’s. Following the spike in cases that occurred in January, Mayors from Cali and Bogotá announced that the occupancy rate declined. Thus, the health system recovered from the high stress suffered in said month and new measures can be taken towards economic improvement.
3.Development of the electronic payroll.
Colombia continues to make progress in regulation and digital transformation, aspects that have reduced procedures and improved tax control in the country. The National Tax and Customs Entity (“DIAN”) is now adding a resolution which purposes is promoting electronic payroll payments. The electronic payroll payment support must be issued on a monthly basis by the required parties and be transmitted for the validation of the DIAN, independently by each beneficiary of the payments. The following individuals are obliged to generate and transmit the electronic payroll payment to support the costs and deductions in the income tax and complementary taxes and deductible taxes in the Sales Tax -VAT: a. Taxpayers of income tax and complementary taxes, who make payments or credits on account derived from an employment or legal and regulatory relationship. b. Employers, who make payments to pensioners. This regulation contemplates the requirements that the electronic payroll support must comply with and the calendar for its implementation, depending on the number of employees, starting on July 1st 2021 and ending on December 1st, 2021.
4.Debt grew to 132% of the GDP in 2020.
The national debt of the Republic of Colombia is recorded as the money that has been borrowed by all levels of government. The Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda y Crédito Público) is in charge of all of the finances of the government and sets the annual budget (considering debt). According to “Global Debt Monitor”, Colombia surpassed the previous debt index of 116,8% to reach 132.2%. The increase is mainly due to Government expending to reactivate the economy. It increased from 49,4% to 60% at the end of 2020. In comparison to other LatAm countries, where the increase in public debt rose to 76.3% of GDP, Colombia’s rise has not been as steep and even its total indebtedness is not as high as its neighbors.
Colombia’s issue now seems to be fiscal, considering that spending is increasing without any certain support in terms of tax upturn. Therefore, Colombia is in the process of launching a new tax reform to help plug the country’s gap in this area.