President brings message of conciliation to legislature

Ms. Chinchilla addresses lawmakers in an unusual afternoon session. Photo: Casa Presidencial

President Laura Chinchilla prefaced her state of the state message Thursday with conciliatory themes.

Ms. Chinchilla was faced with the challenge of giving a speech when everyone already knew the content. Politics blocked her appearance Sunday, but she made public a copy of the speech she was supposed to give.

Thursday there were just ministers as guests in the assembly chambers. Usually this is a black-tie affair for diplomats. Lawmakers listened respectfully. Later, however, many of the former opposition parties that are now in the majority said they had differences with the president’s policies and proposals.

“Today more than ever we have to build a policy in which leadership does not consist of blocking an idea or in articulating a harangue but in sharing agreement and articulating accords that will result in the order for action,” said the president in a new preface that she delivered in advance of her speech.

She said the new leadership of the Asamblea Legislativa
was entitled to deepest respect. It was the president who ended the legislative standoff. She told Luis Gerardo Villanueva to step down from the assembly presidency he had won on a tricky maneuver. Both are from the Partido Liberación Nacional.

The main speech was a recounting of what had been accomplished and what the president expects to accomplish.

Many of her plans depend on increasing taxes, and she has plenty of support to do that. However the way it is done might challenge the new ruling coalition because it includes parties from the right and the left.

Some oppose the Chinchilla proposals because they believe not enough taxes are levied on the wealthy. Others believe that ending evasion would generate enough funds. This issue will be argued out in committee meeting and on the legislative floor.

Basically Ms. Chinchilla proposed a 14 percent value-added tax and taxing a number of basic items that are not now subject to the 13 percent sales tax. Many lawmakers want to keep the basic items such as foods stuffs free of taxes and seek to reduce the value-added tax to 13 percent.

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