Lawmakers reach agreement to speed action on new taxes

Lawmakers are going full speed ahead to give initial approval to the central government’s massive tax plan. The leaders of the political parties in the Asamblea Legislative Thursday agreed to make procedural changes that will expedite the consideration of the measure.

A first vote may take place as early as next week.

This is the plan to institute a 14 percent valued added tax that will cover many more financial transactions than the existing 13 percent sales tax. The new series of taxes is supposed to raise nearly $500 million a year for the central government.

Lawmakers cannot act to pass the measure completely until a decision comes from the Sala IV constitutional court. Some lawmakers challenged the fast track way in which the tax plan was going through the legislature.

Proponents have enough votes to pass the proposal, although lawmakers must first consider hundreds of amendments that have been proposed. Typically the amendments are voted down, but that takes time.

The legislature is meeting in two sessions a day to get the measure passed.

The central government is deeply in debt, and half the national budget is paid for with borrowed money. Meanwhile, the Sala IV constitutional court has backed a $300 monthly pay raise for lawmakers.

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