RICO’S TICO BULL – On Thursday, on the legislative agenda was the thing (bill) about the reduction of the 2021 Marchamo. Had it been discussed as planned, it was sure to have gotten approved, and being the second and final debate, the only stumbling block to becoming law and reducing (almost) everyone’s Marchamo in half, was a presidential veto.
But it may not be required, possibly, COVID did the dirty work for President Carlos Alvarado and his administration when an alert was called as the number of cases of the coronavirus in the new legislative cement enclosure went from 14 on Tuesday, to 17 by Wednesday and 50 at noon Thursday.
Invaded by fears of a further spread of the outbreak presented, the chairman of the Legislative Assembly, Eduardo Cruickshank, on the return of legislators from a break in sessions, called off the sessions for the day Thursday, on Friday and Monday. In addition, Cruickshank announced the closure of the new building. Costa Rica’s new Congress building becomes a ‘super spreader’
Legislators were “this close” to approving a reduction of 50% of the 2021 Marchamo on vehicles with a fiscal value of up to ¢20 million colones, 35% for vehicles up to ¢50 million, and 5% on all others above the 50M.
This is in contrast to the ¢4.2 million cap the Presidency had proposed and the ¢4.6 million by the PAC, the President’s party.
If the session had continued with normalcy on Thursday, the bill would most likely have passed and be on its way to President Alvarado’s desk for signature and to the printing presses of La Gaceta if not vetoed.
That would have meant that we all could breathe a sigh of relief, chopping down a big expense.
Now, it could all have been an unfortunate situation, a coincidence if you will, the virus spreading through the building like that. As explained by Cruickshank on Wednesday, the outbreak was a result of the “descuido” – inadvertence – of contact between outsiders working on the move and legilsative officials.
But many don’t see it that way at all. An example is a strong message on social networks by legislator Edwin Alberto Campos Solano saying that it was all staged by Carlos Alvarado and those who support and help him to delay the process and run out the time to have the bill into law before November 1.
He points out that it was the PAC bloc who pushed hard for the bill to be placed at the end of the day’s agenda and not at the beginning as had been expected.
“We call came here to vote on this, we knew what was on the agenda.
“Me hierva la sangre. Que tipo mas degenerado es Carlos Alavardo (My blood boils, what a most degenerate type is Carlos Alavardo),” said Campos Solano in his Facebook video.
“A narco-style novela (soap opera) is what you have and everyone is complicit,” wrote Albert Abraham, adding that they’re all a bunch of actors.
According to Campos Solano and others, t’s a done deal, the public gets another one up their proverbial by this government.
Yet, he doesn’t take responsibility for his and his fellow lawmakers taking so long to get the bill to this stage.
Nor does he – or others – point out that not all is lost and the legislature is expected to session on Tuesday after thorough disinfection of the building. Or, if you will reacll, at the end of March two bills that raiseed the traffic fines and enacted harsh sanctions for the sanitary vehicular restrictions was fast-tracked.
It was unprecented in Costa Rica’s politics that a bill would obtain final approval by legislators on that Friday morning, then sent to Casa Presidencial for the signature of President Carlos Alvarado and to La Gaceta for immediate publication for entry into force by Monday. Legislators Approve Stiff Fines For Violating Health Order And Vehicular Restrictions
Of course, that was for the benefit of the government’s coffers. Thousands of drivers have been fined ¢110,000 (instead of ¢23,000) colones, have had their licesen plates sezied and six points added to their driver’s license.
This is different. Why would the Executive want to push through a bill that in the words of Minister of Finance, Elian Villegas, “it will create a huge hole in the country’s finances”.
But, I have to believe, trust in the process and the legislators and the President will do the right thing.
We will know soon enough, in a couple of days.