Tax Plan Faces New Controversy

November 5, 2004

THE proposed Permanent FiscalReform Package, already the topic ofcontroversy in the Legislative Assembly,has sparked a new debate: are 29 votesrequired for its approval, or 38?According to the daily La Nación, theanswer to the question seems to dependon whom one asks.The Patriotic Bloc and LibertarianMovement Party, which both oppose thetax plan, argue that because the bill concedespowers to tax authorities not grantedin the Constitution, 38 votes arerequired for its passage.The plan’s supporters, including theNational Liberation Party (PLN) andCitizen Action Party (PAC) argue that thepowers granted to tax authorities are notnew and a majority of the 57-memberassembly (29 votes) is all that is neededto pass the plan.Adrián Torrealba, expert in tax lawand former General Taxation Director,told La Nación the Libertarian MovementParty’s argument is baseless.The decision about how many votesare needed lies in the hands of assemblypresident Gerardo González, of the SocialChristian Unity Party (PUSC), who toldthe daily he is aware of the controversybut will not make a decision until a votedraws near.That day may be far off, since theassembly’s first priority in November isto approve a 2005 national budget.Discussion of the proposed budget,which has sparked plenty of controversyof its own regarding the division of fundsbetween interest payments on the nationaldebt and other government programs,began this week and must be completedby midnight on Nov. 30 (TT, Oct. 29).

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