More opposition surfaces against tax package

More opponents to the administration’s proposed tax package surfaced Wednesday.

Representatives of the dental profession warned lawmakers that assessing taxes on medical procedures would result in greater numbers of people seeking care at the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

Meanwhile Luis Fishman, an opposition legislator, said that sufficient funds are available for the central government without a new tax. He said the money could be found in the decentralized institutions. Fishman is a former vice president.

The dental representatives were from the Colegio de Cirujanos Dentistas, the professional organization. They were speaking before the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios, which is studying the Chinchilla administration proposal for, among other measures, a 14 percent value-added tax.

Right now medical and other professional services are not taxed, but they would be under the administration proposal.

Fernando Montero, vice president of the dental colegio, said that the Caja now cares for 23 percent of the population, and has a limited capacity to care for more.

Also appearing were representatives from the
transportation industry who also said they were against the tax proposals. Javier Reina, vice president of the Cámera de Transportes said that the problem is a high rate of tax evasion. He said that 50 percent of the internal transportation in the country is informal and that those providing the service do not pay taxes. By assessing a higher tax on transport companies the legislature would increase the disadvantage that legitimate companies have, he said.

The proposals by President Laura Chinchilla seek to raise an additional $500 million in taxes, but the committee has been hearing from a procession of interest groups that oppose the measures. Included were the tourism chamber.

Fishman, a former presidential candidate, spoke at a forum set up at the legislature. He said that there are 68 autonomous governmental institutions and many have budget surpluses. The autonomous institutions are rich and the central government is poor, he said.

He said that he and his Partido Social Cristiano have sent a list of 14 proposals to Ms. Chinchilla. They included evasion, fighting fraud and the reorganization of the government.

Even among legislators of Ms. Chinchilla’s own party, Liberación Nacional, there is some hesitancy to embrace the tax package because some lawmakers do not think the proposals are sufficiently progressive in placing the major tax burden on the rich.

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