President to lobby for bills at breakfast

President Luis Guillermo Solís has invited leaders of the various political parties in the legislature to breakfast today to push a lengthy agenda of bills.

Among them are bills establishing a value-added tax in lieu of the current sales tax, one reinstituting a tax on corporations and a third that would increase income taxes for higher earners and corporations.

Also in the mix is a bill to fight tax fraud. A letter to legislative leaders by Sergio Iván Alfaro Salsa, the minister of the Presidencia, cited disclosures from the Panama papers as a reason for the meeting.

The agenda also includes a lengthy list of bills relating to pensions and two that relate to the interchange of tax information with other countries.

April 30 is the end of the period in which the executive branch controls the legislative agenda. May 1 will see another election of legislative leadership. After that lawmakers can present their own bills.

The breakfast might not be ample enough to change any legislative minds.

The opposition Partido Liberación Nacional bluntly said Tuesday that its lawmakers would not vote for any new taxes unless there were substantial budget cuts by the executive branch. However, the political party did announce its willingness again to back a bill against tax fraud.

The statement came from Silvia Sánchez Venegas, the deputy leader of the party in the legislature.

Rolando González Ulloa, a spokesman for the Comisión de Asuntos Hacendarios, which is considering the tax bills, expressed unhappiness with threats by the president. On his television spot and at the April 11 holiday celebration in Alajuela Solís threatened to punish the country with taxes and drastic measures if the tax bills do not pass, said González.

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