COSTA RICA NEWS – The controversial budget vote in the Legislative Assembly, in which 26 voted against budget approval and only 25 for it but the congressional president, Henry Mora, declared the national budget approved, will be challenged in the Constitutional Court.

2786_1347776706Three deputies, from different parties, all agreed that Mora performed a slick legerdemain with last Thursday’s vote that defeated the budget cuts recommended by the Fiscal Affairs Committee.

The three dissidents are National Liberation Party‘s Rolando Gonzalez, Libertarian Otto Guevara and Christian Democratic Alliance deputy Mario Redondo.

Mora’s reasoning sounds strange to those uninitiated in the twists and turns of what passes for political “logic.” He maintains that congress has no power to reject the government’s spending plan even though approval did not reach a majority.

This seems strange, not only because lawmakers have control of the purse strings in every other democracy on earth, but because the constitution requires not only congressional approval of the budget and also sets a deadline each year: Nov. 30.

However, La Nacion pointed out that only if the budget does not reach its first reading by Nov. 27, will the President’s budget proposal be passed automatically. The regulation assumes that this will not leave time for proper debate before Nov. 30.

Meanwhile, apparently bowing to Mora’s interpretation, Citizen Action Party (PAC) founder Otton Solis, took it upon himself to write a letter to all cabinet ministers imploring them to under-spend the amount granted in the record 7.9 trillion colon budget.

Heading his missive, “The budget is an authorization, not an obligation to spend,” lawmaker Solis, who had recommended his own package of budget slashes, is still advising fiscal restraint.

Moreover, Solis roundly criticized the budget put forward by the nation’s President of his own party, saying that many of the sums quoted in the document did not materially benefit the advance of the country.

He singled out the 50 billion colones set aside for rents, the 40 billion allotted for consultants, 17.3 billion for trips both inside and outside the country, 11.3 billion in overtime pay for bureaucrats and 60 billion for something called “exclusive dedication.”

Mora’s maneuverings are well timed, however, to block congressional action before Nov. 27. The Nov. 30 deadline is rather graven in stone and it is unlikely, even by burning the midnight oil, that the congress could pass at least some of its cuts.

The Congressional President could well have forced a constitutional crisis if the majority wants to make cuts in December. It certainly seems unlikely that Mora will be upheld by the Sala IV as the constitutional court is called.

He has also trashed the possibility of trust from other parties and may make it harder for his President to govern.


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