Monday 6 December 2021

Legislators describe the president as capricious and insensitive

Harsh criticism is thrown at Carlos Alvarado for this decision to veto the 2022 Marchamo rebate from the PLN, PUSC, the Nueva República bloc and Frente Amplio

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QCOSTARICA – The deputies of the various legislative fractions reacted annoyed Friday night, after the announcement of President Carlos Alvarado’s veto of the bill to reduce the payment of the 2022 Marchamo.

File photo of the unicameral legislative branch of the Costa Rican government

Among the qualifiers that the spokespersons of the political factions gave the president were:  immature, capricious, and insensitive to the needs of the people.

In addition, legislators are annoyed in particular that the president did not leave them any margin of political action by announcing his veto one week after the bill was approved in the Legislature, aware that they will no longer be able to do anything to rescue that bill, because as of Monday, November 1, the Executive Power has absolute control of the legislative agenda and will not convene a session on the vetoed bill.

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Read more: VETO: Carlos AlvarAdo says no to Marchamo reduction for this year

“The government has been insensitive, at a time when it has not been able to trace a clear route to help Costa Rica. The president is unaware of the reality of many Costa Ricans and the hardships of many families. This disconnection is evident with the veto of the project,” said the head of the National Liberation Party (PLN) legislative bloc, María José Corrales.

Franggi Nicolás, also a liberationist and proponent of the original project, said that Alvarado shows that he is “insensitive to the harsh crisis situation that Costa Ricans are going through.”

“It is a joke to wait until the last minute, in order to bury any possibility of rescuing the initiative by the legislators. Despite the hard times we are living, even so, they are encouraged to put their hand in the pockets of Costa Ricans,” said Nicolás, who earlier in the week started a Change.org petition to pressure the President in signing the bill.

The spokesman for the independent bloc Nueva República, Jonathan Prendas, said that the president’s gesture shows immaturity and said that the only person responsible for people not having a reduction in the property tax on vehicles is Carlos Alvarado.

In the opinion of Pablo Abarca, head of the Partido Unided Social Cristiana (PUSC), “it is a political clowning by Alvarado that at this point he denies a project that is much smaller than the one he signed last year.”

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The PUSC legislator refers to the reduction of the Marchamo that legislators approved for 2021 and that generated a fiscal gap of between ¢60 billion and ¢70 billion colones, but that was covered with the surplus of several institutions that were handed over to the State by a law that forced them.

For this year, the Treasury calculated the gap left by this reduction at ¢30 billion.

“This is a whim of the president, not wanting to loosen on this issue, because he has not had the same veto criterion when he has enabled the exception of the fiscal rule for various institutions, such as the National Production Council (CNP), which buys with luxury and has a lot of bureaucracy. The president is not consistent,” said Abarca.

The PUSC spokesperson also argued that it is outrageous for him, the president, to issue the veto when he no longer leaves them anything to be done.

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The head of the Frente Amplio, José María Villalta, described the president’s decision as wrong because the bill was widely negotiated in the Assembly and “modifications were made to minimize the fiscal impact of the reduction.”

“It is a bill that has measures aimed above all at benefiting people with lower-value vehicles, who have low incomes and I believe that fiscal measures must be accompanied by social measures that protect people,” said Villalta, who is also a 2022 Presidential candidate.

The president of the Legislature, the liberationist Silvia Hernández, confirmed that if the Executive does not include the vetoed file in the call for extraordinary sessions, the Assembly cannot deal with it.

“The Assembly could not ‘resello’ with the initiative if it is not on the agenda. In extraordinary cases, only the bills that are formally convened in an executive decree can appear,” Hernández said.

To resello means to approve a bill, despite the fact that that the bill has a presidential veto, and for this, 38 of 57 votes are required.

Villalta added that another law could not even be approved to alleviate the payment of the Marchamo, because it would not be called by the Executive either.

Who did claim to understand Carlos Alvarado’s measure was the head of National Restoration and presidential candidate and former president of the Legislature, Eduardo Cruickshank, as he said that he understands that the president adheres to his speech on the problem of a reduction without compensation.

“It seems to me that the gap had to be compensated, but it seems a pity the moment in which he vetoes the project and under the constitutionality argument that he invokes, because it does not give us the opportunity to react to in Assembly,” he commented.

Cruickshank added that he would have preferred that the plan not be vetoed, so that Costa Ricans “could have a little bit of economic availability in the midst of the difficult pandemic situation we have been experiencing and greater purchasing power in the coming months.”

None of the legislators of the Partido Accion Cuidadana (PAC) fraction – ruling party – who voted against the bill in the legislative process, made any public comment on the president’s veto.

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