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Colombia's government proposes budget increase of 9% for 2020

BOGOTA, July 29 (Reuters) - Colombia's government has presented an $84 billion proposal for the Andean country's 2020 budget to Congress, ahead of what will likely be months of debate on the law.

The budget for next year must be approved before Oct. 20.

"This is an austere budget," Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla told journalists. "We would like to have more money but what we have will be managed as well as possible."

The 271.7 trillion peso proposal would be a 9.16% increase on the 248.9 trillion pesos approved for 2019.

The proposal allocates 172 trillion pesos for government operating costs, 9.9% higher than last year, and 40.4 trillion pesos for investment, a slight 0.74% decrease from 2018.

Money earmarked to make debt payments totals 59.2 trillion pesos, up 14.3% from 2019. Funds to be spent on interest payments increased slightly to 30.9 trillion pesos, up 3.7% from 2019.

Under the bill the government establishes a fiscal deficit goal of 2.1% of gross domestic product - completion is seen as key to the country maintaining its current credit ratings.

The proposal assumes economic growth of 4% for 2020, inflation of 3% and prices for crude oil, the country's largest export, at $65 per barrel.

The education, defense and health sectors will see the most spending, with the defense budget growing to 6.8% to 35.8 trillion pesos.

($1 = 3,233.26 Colombian pesos) (Reporting by Carlos Vargas and Nelson Bocanegra Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Sandra Maler)