Tuesday 31 January 2023

Absentee legislator bills taxpayers ¢3.2 million gas bill for one month

Legislative Assembly will investigate the use of fuel by legislator Ivonne Acuña and assesses whether she must repay

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28 January 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Absent from work with leave since December, legislator Ivonne Acuña, taxpayers ¢3.2 million colones for fuel in a single day, prompting the Executive Directorate of Legislative Assembly to carry out an investigation.

Independent legislator Ivonne Acuña, who has been absent from her job since at least December 2021, spent millions of colones on fuel in a single day

The money could be enough to fill the tanks of 103 vehicles with gasoline prices at that time and at a rate of 45 liters per car.

According to a report by La Nacion, Acuña made the purchase of fuel on November 30 and left the country on December 11.

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Each month, legislators receive, on a personalized debit card, an amount of money equivalent to 500 liters of fuel as “technical aid” for legislative work. The money is cumulative, that is unspent money in one month rolls over to the next. At the end of the four-year term, unused funds must be returned to public funds.

The President of the Legislative Assembly, Silvia Hernández, issued a statement in which she assured that, in the event that any illegality in the use of fuel by Acuña is identified, they would determine whether the legislator should reimburse or whether a complaint should be filed before the Ombudsman for Public Ethics and the Prosecutor’s Office.

Also,  Hernández announced that she asked the Legal Department of the Legislative Assembly for a reform to improve the regulation of legislators’ permits since Acuña has accumulated several weeks without appearing at the legislative sessions.

Hernández clarified that Acuña does not have permission to be absent from the Legislative Plenary.

That yes, she also clarified that the payment of fuel is not subject to the permissions to be absent from the sessions.

Both the president of the Legislative Assembly, Silvia Hernández (left), and independent legislator Ivonne Acuña (right) are being investigated by the Attorney General’s office

In parallel, the Attorney General’s Office is investigating the independent legislator the president of the Legislative Assembly for alleged breach of duties.

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The press department of the Ministerio Publico confirmed that both legislators appear as defendants in the same file, which was opened earlier this year.

Both Hernández and Acuña have immunity for being members of the Supremos Poderes (Supreme Powers).

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