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Opposition Leader Solís Sounds Off on Taxes

September 1, 2006

Opposition leader Ottón Solís, founder and former presidential candidate of the Citizen Action Party (PAC), told The Tico Times recently that he is reluctant to evaluate President Oscar Arias’ performance after only 100 days in office. However, he did take advantage of the milestone to send Arias an open letter and make a fourminute television appearance outlining his party’s position on several key issues.

He may have refrained from explicit criticism, but made some thinly veiled allusions to the new administration’s policies in the Aug. 21 speech, which he also posted on his party’s Web site, www.pac.or.cr.

Top on his list: Solís, who came within one percentage point of the presidency in February’s hotly contested elections, said PAC won’t support any new taxes that affect the poor or middle class as long as corruption persists. PAC does, however, favor taxes on multinational corporations, offshore banks, casinos and luxury items, he stated.

He said the President shouldn’t prioritize increasing his own salary, obtaining a new vehicle for his own use or making plans to change the site of Casa Presidencial.

“A government shouldn’t ask for more taxes if it doesn’t provide convincing proof of austerity,” he said. “But the possibility to rectify (this) still exists. One hundred days is a very short time to reach conclusions.”

Solís also reiterated his opposition to the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), which Arias supports.

On the day before his televised speech, Arias’ brother and Presidency Minister, Rodrigo Arias, met with Solís at the PAC leader’s home, the daily La Nación reported.

The Arias administration’s proposed 13% value-added tax on almost all goods and services now faces the opposition of Citizen Action’s 17 legislators as well as the six legislators from the Libertarian Movement Party, according to the daily.

Another of Arias’ bills would levy a 0.25% tax on properties valued at $150,000 and up to finance the elimination of the country’s shantytowns. PAC supports this measure.

In Solís’ letter to Arias, published in La Nación, the ex-candidate praised Arias’ plans to increase pensions for low-income citizens, increase traffic fines and promote biofuel production. He said the administration’s “focus on CAFTA and fiscal projects like panaceas and requirements… don’t differ from the priorities of the previous administration,” but reiterated once more that Arias has time to improve.

 

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