Saturday 30 September 2023

Lawmakers can continue abusing gasoline allowance

Congress failed to prohibit the accumulation of gasoline balances for legislators

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30 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – The administration of the Legislative Assembly promoted a proposal to prohibit legislators from spending cumulative fuel balances on their gasoline allowances.

Legislators are given a 500-liter monthly gasoline allowance, which use is discretionary. While most, at least according to the data from the Legislative Assembly administration, make proper use of the allowance, there have been instances, reportedly publicly, of abuses.

Legislative Assembly building in downtown San Jose

The abuse occurs because the allowance balance is accumulative.

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If the legislator uses less or leaves intact the 500 liters of fuel they receive per month, it accumulates for the next month and so on.

The executive director of the Legislature (Congress), Antonio Ayales, explained that it was proposed to eliminate this practice, but it did not advance in the previous constitutional period.

In addition, Ayales explained, the Legal Department of the Legislative Assembly issued a criterion in 2021 that allows deputies to accumulate fuel balances.

Of the cases of abuse made public, the one that stands out the most is that of former independent legislator, Ivonne Acuña, who paid ¢3.2 million colones in a single day at a gas station located in Escazú.

Former independent legislator Ivonne Acuña

In the previous Assembly (2018-2022) there were similar cases, but with smaller amounts.

In the current Assembly (2022-2018), so far, a total of eleven of the fifty-seven legislators have not used the benefit of the 500 liters of free fuel during their first month.

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