Reduction of Municipalities and Deputies in El Salvador to Generate $250 Million in Savings.

In a move aimed at streamlining the country’s administrative structure and reducing government expenditure, President Nayib Bukele has presented two bills to the Legislative Assembly proposing the reduction of municipalities and deputies. These initiatives are expected to yield significant savings of $250 million for the Salvadoran state.

The bills, which seek to reorganize El Salvador’s political-administrative division from 262 municipalities to 44 and decrease the number of deputies from 84 to 60, were introduced by President Bukele during his national address marking the end of his fourth year in office and the beginning of his fifth.

Both bills will be formally included in the agenda of the next week’s plenary session. The legislative body will determine whether to vote on the proposals that day with expedited procedures or if they will be further studied by the commissions on municipal affairs or electoral reforms, respectively.

Regardless of whether they are approved with expedited procedures or subject to further study, President Bukele emphasized that both bills must be approved and implemented before the general elections in 2024.

The proposed reduction of municipalities, initially announced by the president at the end of last year, enjoys broad popular support as it aims to facilitate territorial reorganization and ensure efficient use of public resources, according to organizations and analysts.

President Bukele argued that reducing the number of municipalities would alleviate the state’s budgetary burden in terms of salaries paid to mayors, councilors, trustees, secretaries, advisors, treasurers, directors, managers, legal experts, press officers, and financial officers of municipalities.

He reasoned that this decision would “allow for greater and better use of public funds for infrastructure projects instead of being spent on municipal employee payrolls.” Additionally, it would ensure an equitable distribution of taxes, enabling municipalities to receive more resources and carry out essential projects currently impeded by excessive bureaucracy.

Regarding the political-administrative reorganization, President Bukele clarified that the municipalities, as they are currently known, would not disappear but would be transformed into districts. For example, the department of San Salvador, which currently comprises 19 municipalities, would be restructured into five new municipalities.

The new municipality of San Salvador Norte would include the districts of Aguilares, El Paisnal, and Guazapa, while San Salvador Oeste would consist of Apopa and Nejapa. San Salvador Este would be formed by Cuscatancingo, Ciudad Delgado, Ilopango, San Martín, Soyapango, and Tonacatepeque. San Salvador Centro would include Ayutuxtepeque, Mejicanos, San Marcos, San Salvador, Santo Tomás, and Santiago Texacuangos. Lastly, San Salvador Sur would encompass the districts of Panchimalco and Rosario de Mora.

“In other words, we will no longer have 262 mayors or 262 municipal councils or all the other trusted collaborators. We will only have 44 mayors with their respective municipal councils,” reaffirmed President Bukele during the presentation of the bill to the Assembly.

Regarding the reduction of deputies, President Bukele argued that the goal is to revert to the number of legislators prior to the 1992 Peace Accords.

“ARENA and FMLN, in the farce they staged back then, added 24 deputies to the Assembly to secure positions, salaries, and privileges for their friends. The increase in the number of deputies was declared unconstitutional by the previous Constitutional Chamber, which they controlled. However, they did not care and maintained the 84 deputies,” criticized the president.