Wanting to kick off her presidency
with a powerful message, Michelle Bachelet has promised to
implement 36 urgent reforms in her first 100 days in office,
relating to, among others, education, health, social security,
subsidies and equality.
Beginning Monday, all of Bachelet's
newly appointed economic ministers, including Finance Minister
Andres Velasco, will go to work to make that promise possible.
The price tag for the projects is expected to be at least $350
million: the amount of discretionary funds the outgoing Lagos
administration made available for Bachelet. The available funds
could increase if some of the $22 billion budget for 2006 is
Bachelet's number one priority is
adjusting the system of welfare pensions, and reconfiguring
minimum pensions. This project that, according to Labor
Minister Osvaldo Andrade, is all but complete: "The project is
ready, we just need to fine-tune the numbers", he said.
Bachelet plans to provide guaranteed pensions not only to the
elderly, but to housewives as well.
Pension reform is just one area
where Bachelet is looking to make immediate changes. She also
hopes to fast track one of the plan's health care issues,
possibly free hospital attention for citizens over 60 years of
Bachelet's proposed measures
include providing free child care for both working parents with
children under four, and low income working parents with older
The measures also include the
creation of two new ministries, Public Security and
Environment, and electoral reform.
One of the greatest challenges for
Bachelet is to encourage more equitable income distribution in
a country where 8 percent of Chileans earn less than US$560 per
month, unemployment has only recently dropped under 10 percent,
and poverty is still a major issue.
Eighty percent of Bachelet's measures will require new laws.
However, her ability to push through these reforms will be
greatly bolstered by her party having a majority in both houses
of government for the first time since Chile's transition to
democracy began in 1990.
Motor vehicles manufacturer DaimlerChrysler Mexico, the
third largest player in that country announced that it will
invest $ 1 billion to modernize its facility in Toluca
and to construct an industrial complex for
its suppliers. The facility of Toluca started operations in
1964 and is the most important of the company in Mexico. From
1998 to 2002 the company invested $ 2 billion in
Mexico to develop the model PT Cruiser in Toluca, and to
produce Dodge Ram in its facility of Saltillo, Coahuila. In
Toluca, DaimlerChrysler Mexico employs 2,700 people.