Fast-Track Procedure Still in Doubt

May 27, 2005

THE beleaguered Permanent FiscalReform Package got a break this weekwhen the Legislative Assembly voted toapply a new “fast-track” procedure to themuch-debated controversial tax plan.On Wednesday, however, theConstitutional chamber of the SupremeCourt (Sala IV) announced it will examinemotions of inconstitutionality twolegislators filed against the fast-trackprocedure, according to the daily LaNación.Under the fast-track, known as the208 bis, the plan, which has been in theassembly for more than three years, couldreach a vote within two months, accordingto legislators. The special regulationsreduce the number of days legislatorshave to prevent amendments to the planfrom four to one and limit legislators’individual comments on the floor of theassembly to 20 minutes during first debatevoting (compared to the normallimit of 30) and only 10 minutes duringthe second round of discussions.It is not clear, however, how much theSala IV case might slow things down.The 208 bis was approved in Marchas a way to speed up the assembly’sprocedures for projects whose approvalrequires only a simple majority, or 29 of57 votes (TT, March 11). Controversyfollowed when legislators could notdecide whether the tax plan met thatrequirement. Some said clauses of theplan deal with constitutional mattersand would require a two-thirds majorityfor passage (TT, May 20).After considering the issue, assemblypresident Gerardo González announcedthis week that legislators’ votes, not hisdecision, should determine the eligibilityof the tax plan for the new procedure.Legislators approved the application ofthe fast-track Monday night.The tax plan tops the legislativeagenda.

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