SECTION XII. The National Economic Council
The law may create a National Economic Council, to be advisory and honorary in character, composed of Representatives of the economic and professional interests of the country. The law shall specify the form of organization and the functions thereof.
The National Economic Council shall communicate with the Public Powers in writing but it may argue its points of view before the Legislative Committees, through one or more of its members.
SECTION XIII. The Tribunal of Accounts
The Tribunal of Accounts shall be composed of seven members, who must meet the same qualifications as those required of a Senator.
They shall be appointed by the General Assembly by a two-thirds vote of its full membership.
The prohibitions contained in Articles 122, 123, 124, and 125 shall apply in this respect.
The terms of members shall end when the General Assembly which replaces the one that appointed them makes appointments for the new period.
They may be reelected, and for each member there shall be three alternates for cases of vacancy, temporary disability or leave of absence.
The members of the Tribunal of Accounts are responsible to the General Assembly, in joint session, for the faithful and accurate fulfillment of their functions. The General Assembly may remove them in case of inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance, by a two-thirds vote of its full membership.
The Tribunal of Accounts shall have functional autonomy, which shall be regulated by a law to be drafted by the Tribunal itself. The law may also give it other functions not specified in this Section.
It shall be the province of the Tribunal of Accounts:
- To deliver opinions and furnish information on budget matters;
- To supervise expenditures and payments, in accordance with the rules and regulations to be established by law, for the sole purpose of certifying as to their legality, appending whenever necessary any pertinent objections. Should the respective auditor persist, he shall communicate the matter to the Tribunal, without prejudice to compliance with the order.Should the Tribunal of Accounts in turn maintain its objections, it shall communicate detailed information to the General Assembly, or to whoever may be acting in its stead, for appropriate action.In the Departmental Governments, Autonomous Entities and Decentralized Services, the duties to which this paragraph refers may be performed under like conditions through the intermediary of the respective accountants or officials acting in their stead, who shall perform such duties under the supervision of the Tribunal of Accounts, subject to the provisions of law, which may extend this rules to other public services administering funds;
- To deliver opinions and furnish information with respect to the submission of accounts and activities of all the organs of the State, including Departmental Governments, Autonomous Entities and Decentralized Services, regardless of their nature, as well as, insofar as appropriate action in cases of responsibility is concerned, setting forth the pertinent considerations and objections;
- To present to the General Assembly an annual report relative to the rendering of accounts required under the preceding paragraph;
- To intervene in all matters relating to the financial activities of the organs of the State, the Departmental Governments, Autonomous Entities and Decentralized Services, and to report to the appropriate authority all irregularities in the management of public funds or infractions of budgetary and accounting laws;
- To issue ordinances on accounting which shall be binding on all organs of the State, Departmental Governments, Autonomous Entities and Decentralized Services, regardless of their nature;
- To draft its budget, which it shall submit to the Executive Power to be included in the general budget. The Executive Power, with such modifications as it may see fit to make, shall transmit it to the Legislative Power for final action.
The Tribunal of Accounts shall exercise supervision in all matters within its competence and, subject to the provisions of its Organic Law, over all offices of accounts, collections and payments of the State, Departmental Governments, Autonomous Entities and Decentralized Services, regardless of their nature, and it may propose to appropriate officials such changes as it may consider advisable.
The Tribunal of Accounts shall present to the Executive Power the draft of a Law on Accounting and Financial Administration, and the Executive Power shall submit it to the Legislative Power with such suggestions as it may deem appropriate. Such draft shall include regulatory provisions covering financial and economic administration, and particularly the organization of the accounting and collection services; the requisites, for purposes of supervision, for the acquisition and alienation of property and the making of contracts affecting the Public Wealth [Hacienda Pública] and for making effective preventive supervision of receipts, expenditures and payments; and the responsibilities and guaranties which shall be exacted from officials who have to do with the handling of the patrimony of the State.
SECTION XIV. The Public Wealth
The Executive Power shall draft, with the assistance of the Office of Planning and Budget, the National Budget for its term of Government and shall present it to the Legislative Power within the first six months of the exercise of its mandate.
The National Budget shall be drafted and adopted with a structure that shall contain:
- The current expenses and investments of the State distributed into each Chapter by program;
- The functional wage scales and salaries distributed into each Chapter by program;
- The revenues and the estimate of their amount, as well as the percentage that, over the total amount of resources, corresponds to the Departmental Governments. To this effect, the Sectoral Commission referred to in Article 230, shall assist concerning the percentage to be established thirty days before the period established in the first paragraph expires. If the Office of Planning and Budget does not share its opinion, it shall be presented equally to the Executive Power, and the latter shall communicate it to the Legislative Power;The Departmental Governments shall remit to the Legislative Power, within the six months after the close of the fiscal year, a rendering of accounts of the resources received by application of this literal, with a precise indication of the amounts of the allocations made.
- The norms for the execution and interpretation of the budget.
The foregoing parts may be the object of separate laws by reason of the subject matter they include.
The Executive Power, within six months after the close of a fiscal year, to coincide with the calendar year, shall present to the Legislative Power the Rendition of Accounts and the Balance of Budgetary Execution corresponding to that [fiscal] year, and it may propose any modifications that are deemed indispensable in the total amount of expenditures, investments, and salaries or revenues and may effect creations, suppressions and modifications, in programs for duly justifiable reasons.
The Legislative Power exclusively shall pass upon the overall amount of each item, program, the objective thereof, wage scales and number of officials, and revenues, but it may not make changes that will mean greater expenditures than those proposed.
A special Section in the budgets may be established by law which shall comprise the Ordinary Permanent Expenditures of the administration, for which a periodic revision is not necessary.
Items shall not be included in the budgets when they cover a period longer than the term of office of the Government or which do not refer exclusively to its interpretation or execution.
All budgetary drafts shall be transmitted to the appropriate official for consideration and approval, including a comparison with the current budgets.
Each Chamber must pass upon the draft budgets or laws governing rendition of accounts within forty-five days after they are received.
If they have not acted within that period, the draft or drafts shall be considered rejected.
Whenever a draft approved by one Chamber is modified by the other Chamber, the Chamber that approved it originally must pass upon the modifications within the next fifteen days, after which or if the modifications are rejected, the draft shall go to the General Assembly.
The General Assembly must pass upon it within the next fifteen days.
If the General Assembly does not act within that period, the drafts shall be considered rejected.
Supplementary or substitutive messages may be sent only in the exclusive case of the Draft of the National Budget and then only within twenty days form the first receipt of the draft in each Chamber.
The Judicial Power, the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, the Electoral Court, the Tribunal of Accounts, the Autonomous Entities and Decentralized Services, with the exception of those included in the article following, shall draft their respective budgets and present them to the Executive Power, which shall include them in the draft general budget. The Executive Power may modify the original drafts and shall submit them, with the modifications, to the Legislative Power.
The budgets of the industrial or commercial entities of the State shall be drafted by each of these and submitted to the Executive Power and to the Tribunal of Accounts five months before the beginning of each fiscal period, with the exception of the period following an election year, when it may be submitted at any time.
The Tribunal of Accounts shall report thereon within thirty days after receipt.
The Executive Power, with the advice of the Office of Planning and Budget, may make objections, and in such case, as well as when the Tribunal of Accounts offers objections, the budget is returned to the respective Entity.
If the Entity accepts the objections of the Executive Power and the report of the Tribunal of Accounts, the modified drafts are returned to the Executive Power for approval of the budget, and their inclusion in the National Budget for informational purposes.
If the agreement called for in the foregoing paragraph is not attained, the draft budgets shall be transmitted to the General Assembly, with the added information.
The General Assembly, in joint session, shall settle the differences, subject to the provisions of Article 215, by a two-thirds vote of its full membership. If no decision is reached within forty days, the budget with the objections of the Executive Power shall be considered adopted.
The report of the Tribunal of Accounts requires an affirmative vote of the majority of its members.
The law establishes, previously informed of that referred by the Entities and the Tribunal of Accounts and the opinion of the Executive Power presented with the assessment of the Office of Planning and the Budget, the percentage that each Entity must designate to salaries of management and administration.
The provisions of Articles 86, 133, 214, 215, 216 and 219 shall apply to the departmental budget, wherever pertinent.
Each Intendant shall draft the Departmental Budget which shall be in effect during his term of office and he shall submit it for consideration by the Departmental Board within the first six months of his term.
The Departmental Boards shall consider the draft budgets prepared by the Intendants within four months after they are submitted.
The Departmental Boards may modify the draft budgets only to increase revenues or decrease expenditures and may not give approval to any draft which indicates a deficit, and they may not create positions on their own initiative.
Prior to approval of the budget, the Board shall request reports from the Tribunal of Accounts, which shall act within twenty days, and may offer objections only as to errors in the calculation of revenues, the omission of budgetary obligations, or the violation of applicable constitutional or legal provisions.
If the Board accepts the objections of the Tribunal of Accounts, or does not dispute them, the budget is definitively approved.
In any case the Board may not make other changes subsequent to the report submitted by the Tribunal of Accounts.
If the Departmental Board does not accept the objections offered by the Tribunal of Accounts, the budget and statement of facts of the case shall be submitted to the General Assembly which, meeting in joint session, shall pass on the discrepancies within a period of forty days, and if no decision is reached, the budget shall be considered approved.
Upon expiration of the period described in Article 224, if the Departmental Board has not taken final action, the draft budget submitted by the Intendant shall be considered to be rejected.
Departmental budgets which are declared to be in effect shall be communicated to the Executive Power for inclusion in the general budget, as information, and to the Tribunal of Accounts with the facts concerning its objections, if any.
Supervision of the execution of the budgets and the exercise of control in all matters relating to the Public Wealth shall be vested in the Tribunal of Accounts.
As long as a draft budget has not been approved, the previous budget shall continue to be in effect.
The Legislative Power, the Departmental Boards, the Autonomous Entities and Decentralized Services may not approve budgets, create offices, make increases in salaries and retirement allowances, or approve increases in items for wages or contracted services, within twelve months prior to the date of the regular elections, with the exception of the allotments referred to in Articles 117, 154, and 295.
There shall be an Office of Planning and Budget that shall depend directly the Presidency of the Republic. It shall be directed by a Commission composed of representatives of the Ministers connected with development and by a Director appointed by the President of the Republic that presides over it.
The Director must have the qualifications necessary to be a Minister and must be a person of recognized competence in the subject. His position shall be one of specific confidence of the President of the Republic.
The Office of Planning and Budget shall communicate directly with the Ministries and Public Organisms in the carrying out of its functions.
It shall form Sectoral Commissions on which workers and public and private enterprises must be represented.
The Office of Planning and Budget shall assist the Executive Power in the formulation of the plans and programs of development, as well as in the planning of the policies of decentralization that shall be executed:
- By the Executive Power, the Autonomous Entities and the Decentralized Services, with respect to their corresponding duties.
- By the Departmental Governments with respect to the duties that the Constitution and the Law assign to them. To this effect a Sectoral Commission shall be formed that shall be exclusively composed of delegates of the Congress of Intendants and of the competent Ministers, who shall propose plans of decentralization that, with the prior approval of the Executive Power, shall be applied by the corresponding organisms. Without prejudice to the latter, the law may establish the number of the members, the duties and the attributions of this Commission, as well as regulate its functioning.
The Office of Planning and Budget shall also have the other duties that by other provisions are expressly assigned to it as the law determines.
By an absolute majority of the full membership of each Chamber a law may provide for expropriations pertinent to economic development plans and programs, proposed by the Executive Power, with just compensation and pursuant to the rules stated in Article 32.
This compensation need not be paid in advance, but in such a case the law must expressly provide for the resources necessary to ensure its payment in full at the time specified, which shall never be more than ten years; the entity making the expropriation may not take possession of the property without first having paid at least one-fourth of the total compensation.
Small property owners, to be defined by law, shall always receive full compensation before possession of the property is taken.