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Legislative Assembly Awaits Key Bills

Tuesday, Aug. 1 will mark three months in office for the 2006-2010 Legislative Assembly, but at press time, legislators were still waiting for the Executive Branch to submit a series of high-profile bills, some expected to require plenty of discussion.

With much of the legislation already announced and presented to President Oscar Arias’ Cabinet meeting, it could arrive on the assembly doorstep any day, a Casa Presidencial spokesman told The Tico Times this week.

The clock is ticking on at least one bill: a measure that would postpone the Aug. 12 start date of the controversial Immigration Law approved last year until December 2007.

The Executive Branch announced last month that it would initiate the delay for the law, which Arias and other administration leaders have openly criticized, (see The Nica Times for more on the story).

The administration’s tax-reform plans, now broken into nine bills; five bills to reform the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) and National Insurance Institute (INS) and eventually open their monopolies to competition in compliance with the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA); and a reform to the country’s free zones, where export businesses operate tax-free, are also on their way, Arias’ brother and spokesman Rodrigo Arias recently announced.

CAFTA, already under discussion, is a source of significant conflict, tax reforms stalled for most of the 2002-2006 legislative term and ICE reforms were a major bone of contention during the 1998-2002 administration. Given this context, Rodrigo Arias said the plan is to spread the burden among different commissions to prevent assembly paralysis when the bills are sent. The Presidency Minister, in charge of coordinating the Executive Branch and the assembly, added a new commission could be formed to discuss the ICE legislation.



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