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Assembly President Delays Fast-Track for Tax Plan

May 20, 2005

ALTHOUGH legislators from theNational Liberation Party (PLN) andSocial Christian Unity Party (PUSC)attempted to apply a new fast-track procedureto the Permanent Fiscal ReformPackage this week, assembly presidentGerardo González, also of PUSC, stymiedtheir efforts by deciding that the plan maystill contain elements that require constitutionalreforms.Liberation legislator José MiguelCorrales said the recently approved fast trackprocedure, known as the 208 bis (TT,March 11), cannot be used for the taxreform because the law would allow governmentinstitutions to “stir around in documentsof companies or individuals whenthey believe they are thumbing their noseat paying taxes,” according to a statementfrom the assembly.“I agree with those measures to avoidtax evasion, but the Constitution saysa qualified majority of 38 votes is required.For that reason, this is not a text that can beput to discussion with the 208 bis,”Corrales added.To deal with this same concern about thesections of the tax plan that allow authoritiesto access computer files in their tax investigations– sections some say violate the constitutionalright to privacy – legislators votedto send the bill back to commission lastmonth for changes. Once those changeswere made, legislators said the plan wasready for the fast-track vote (TT, April 29).However, the alterations apparently didnot alleviate the concerns of Corrales – orof González, who said he now needs toanalyze the text of the plan point by pointto decide once and for all whether 38 votes(a two-thirds majority) or 27 votes (a simplemajority) are required. He said hewould present his final decision by the endof this week, the assembly statement said.By press time, however, he had notreleased a verdict.The tax plan was drafted by a group offormer finance ministers in 2002 as a long-termsolution to Costa Rica’s fiscal woes.It has been under discussion in the assemblyfor more than three years.

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