July 18, 2012 / 5:01 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Colombia to seek as much as $101 bln for 2013 budget

(Adds tax revenue data)

By Carlos Vargas

BOGOTA, July 18 (Reuters) - Colombia will seek budgeted spending next year of as much as 180 trillion pesos ($101.2 billion), a level higher than previously indicated by the government, according to a lawmaker with direct knowledge of the draft bill.

The 2013 budget, which could change during its passage through Congress, is higher than the 165.3 trillion pesos approved for spending this year, said Angel Cabrera, a ruling party lawmaker in the economic commission of Congress.

Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry - who is scheduled to present the bill on July 27 - will seek a budget of between 175 trillion pesos and 180 trillion pesos, Cabrera told Reuters.

In April, Reuters obtained a copy of the draft bill that showed the government sought a budget worth 172.3 trillion pesos, but Cabrera said that President Juan Manuel Santos had called for more investment.

The budget is focused on education, debt payments and defense, that document showed.

The government collected 56 trillion pesos in tax revenue in the first half of the year, up 18.7 percent from the same period a year ago, according to data obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

The government has set a target of 90.2 trillion pesos in taxes this year, but Juan Ricardo Ortega, head of the tax agency, expects to bring in 103 trillion pesos.

A decade of heavy blows against drug-funded insurgents has improved security across the nation, making it easier for Colombians to find jobs, start businesses and create wealth.

That helped accelerate economic growth and attract record foreign investment to the Andean nation.

More than $13 billion in foreign direct investment flooded into the economy last year, mostly into the oil and mining industries, as troops managed to stave off attacks on workers and international installations.

Colombia’s economy, Latin America’s fourth-largest, grew 5.9 percent last year and is likely to ease to about 4.8 percent this year, according to the government. (Writing by Helen Murphy; Editing by Andrew Hay, Gary Hill)

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