Although the central government is now seeking quick passage of bills that would fight tax fraud and smuggling, more taxes have not been forgotten.
Vice President Helio Fallas outlined a three-stage effort over the remainder of the current administration to resolve the country’s financial woes.
He noted that the government’s deficit has become larger in the last six years.
He cited elevated evasion and fraud, import duties lost because of free trade treaties, the creation of new obligations without resources to pay for them and an increase in interest on the nation’s debt.
None of this is new, but the vice presdient, who also serves as minister of Hacienda, used the situation to call on lawmakers to pass the fraud and customs bills.
He said the road map for the administration is in three phases that include gradual reforms, new legislation and modernization of tax collecting technology.
The tax fraud bill and the bill that increases penalties against smuggling make up the first step. The bills already are in the current legislature, although they are subject to revision.
The second step is approval of a value-added tax and increases in the tax rate, he said. There also is a bill to reduce exonerations from taxes and import duties. All of these have been submitted to lawmakers, he noted.
He said that the executive branch has done its part by issuing rules about travel, food and overtime as well as freezing 85 percent of the vacant government positions.
There also is a bill to adjust downward some pensions.
The third phase includes a number of technical legal changes to control the growth of the deficit. Also included are suggestions from other political parties, he said.
He said the government has been in the red every years except two since 1980.
In his presentation Tuesday he also called on lawmakers to refrain from creating more financial obligations without ways to pay for them,
He noted that in 2014 the deficit was 5.7 percent of the gross domestic product, the total of all goods and services.