President Piñera presents second Public Account, highlighting security, the middle classes and growth: "It is time to return to a culture of dialogue and agreements."
The President of Chile called for a National Agreement to strengthen policy and institutions. In addition, he announced more measures to reinforce security and combat crime and "drug culture"; a constitutional reform to reduce the number of parliamentarians and introduce term limits; and an international tender for the construction of a Santiago-Valparaíso-San Antonio railway.
On Saturday and in his second Public Account, President Sebastián Piñera highlighted the achievements of his administration in regard to strengthening citizen security, protecting and advancing the middle classes and boosting the economic growth of Chile on the country’s path towards developed nation status.
In addition, he called on Congress to approve the tax, pension, healthcare and labor reforms, which seek to provide more resources to people and improve their quality of life.
"It is time to return to a culture of dialogue and agreements. The role of the government and the opposition is not to try to destroy each other. It is to talk and work together, with unity and goodwill, each from their own positions, so that Chile thrives and the quality of life of all of our people improves," he said.
President Piñera began his Public Account highlighting the progress made in security, including the National Agreement for Citizens' Security, the Safe Street program, the modernization of the police force and investigations agency, and the deployment of more police and resources to combat crime and drug trafficking. All of these measures have resulted in a decrease in victimization rates.
He also highlighted the creation of the Protected Middle Classes Network, which introduced 70 measures designed to support and protect this sector of society, creating new benefits such as better employment opportunities, catastrophic health insurance, insurance and subsidies for at-risk senior citizens, a more effective higher education financing system, a larger housing subsidy and a support system for crime victims.
"When our middle classes have to deal with accidents or rainy days in the cycle of life, they should know that they are not alone and that the supportive hand of the State will protect them and help them get back on their feet," he said.
The President of Chile also highlighted the solid growth of the economy, which tripled its expansion in 2018 and created 155,000 new quality jobs and 130,000 companies. He noted that the Chilean economy will grow by up to 3.5% this year, leading the region's expansion, and creating another 150,000 new jobs.
"There is no better labor policy than full employment. There is no better development policy than economic growth. There is nothing more progressive than development, nor anything more retrograde than stagnation," he said.
In addition, the President called for a new National Agreement to improve and strengthen the quality of republican politics and institutions, and detailed a Constitutional Reform bill designed to reduce the number of deputies to 120 and the number of senators to 40, and to place term limits on the re-election of senators, deputies and mayors, "in order to oxygenate our politics, allow for more turn-over and provide more opportunities for citizen participation."
"Today I am asking all of our parliamentarians to put the good of Chile above personal and party interests. The Executive and Congress do not exist to blindly fight each other, but to work together to benefit all Chileans and recover the public trust," said the President.
The President of Chile also highlighted a US$20 billion infrastructure plan for 2018-2022, which includes new services for trains, ports, roads and public transportation, and mining investments of US$65 billion through 2027.
He announced that the Public Works Ministry declared public interest in connecting Santiago to the ports of Valparaíso and San Antonio by passenger and cargo train, and that an international bidding process is underway. This project comes in addition to the recently announced Santiago - Malloco - Melipilla and the Santiago - Batuco - Til Til railway connections, which are now in the environmental impact assessment stage.
In regard to security, he announced a modernization of the criminal justice system and penal code, restricting conditional release for those accused of committing serious crimes and repeat offenders, adding new crimes to the penal code and adjusting sentences based on the severity of the crime.
The President concluded his Public Account to Congress with a call for national unity: "The soul of Chile is comprised of unity, effort, solidarity, perseverance, sacrifice, fortitude, austerity and courage. That is why I want to call on all Chileans to place those values in our hearts, to be guided by those principles, and to listen to the voice of the soul of Chile that asks us all for more unity, more effort and more hope in order to work together to build a better country for ourselves and future generations."