Hotel Chamber calls for peaceful protests against the government's tax plan, in the same of tourism
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels, CCH, called on the groups that protested on Wednesday throughout the country against the government's proposal for more taxes, that these marches must be carried out peacefully.
The protesters reject that the negotiation proposal with the International Monetary Fund, IMF, is based on more taxes and not on a substantial decrease in government spending.
The new tax package is part of the proposal that the government presented to congress. Deputies will analyze the plan to either reject or approve it before it gets sent to the IMF asking for a loan of $1.75 billion.
Under the slogan of "No More Taxes", hundreds of people blocked the main routes of the country. According to the press department of the Traffic Police, main blockades were reported in Downtown San José near the Ministry of Finance and Congress, San Pedro, Zapote near Casa Presidencial, Ciudad Colon and Santa Ana in San José Province.
The CCH expresses its concern about the damage that some actions such as total blockades in the streets could cause to the country. Protests could harm economic activities that have just been recovering from the most severe stages of the restriction measures imposed by the government.
"We call for peace, we as a sector also have our disagreements with the proposal presented by the Government, however, we believe that other mechanisms should be sought to solve this conflict," Javier Pacheco, president of the Chamber said. “Let's defend democracy, but let's do it through dialogue, in harmony and with respect for the rights of all other citizens.”
Representatives of the CCH call on the government to listen to the feelings of the people, and to "take advantage of this opportunity to contribute, promote and maintain peace, in this way, democracy is also protected."
Early Wednesday morning a large number of people took to the streets to march against the plan to impose more taxes that the government has planned.
Protests might also delay traffic, so for people traveling out of the two main airports, Juan Santamaria in Alajuela Province or Daniel Oduber in Guanacaste Province, it is recommended to calculator extra time of at least one hour in advance, to avoid missing the flight.
Vehicle blockades and caravans were also reported in the districts of Uvita, Limón Centro and near the APM Terminals Port, Siquirres, Puerto Viejo in Limón Province.
More blockades and protests were also reported in Aguas Zarcas in San Carlos, near the Juan Santamaría International Airport and Alajuela Centro in Alajuela Province.
As well as protests and blockades were reported near Liberia, Cañas in Guanacaste Province.
Other places where vehicle caravans and marches were reported were near Puntarenas Centro and Caldera Port in Puntarenas Province.
The mass protest was organized by the group called Movimiento Rescate Nacional (National Rescue Organization in English), led by the two former deputies José Miguel Corrales and Célimo Guido.
This is the second massive march against more taxes this month.
On Saturday, Sept. 19, a large caravan of vehicles moved from the Monument of the former President Leon Cortes Castro, located in Sabana, along 14 kilometers over route 27, to reach President Carlos Alvarado’s house. His home is located in the Santana District in San José Province.
Organized by the Bloque Patriótico Pacifista ( Patriotic Pacifist Group in English), hundreds of people showed up in their cars, motorcycles, bicycles and even on foot to complete a caravan of several miles.
"This is a country issue (referring to the new tax plan), it concerns everybody. The people are tired of them (referring to the government) from so much abuse, just thinking about taxes," organizers said on a video of the rally posted on the Bloque Patriótico Pacifista Facebook page.
This was one of many organizations that have expressed its opposition to imposing more taxes.
The CCH classified the government's plan to present the IMF as unacceptable.
Similarly, the National Chamber of Tourism, Canatur, opposes the new tax plan, calling it "a punch to businessmen."
According to the government, the new tax plan is a temporary measure. The main taxes disclosed by the government that are included in the plan are:
• A new tax to all financial transactions. The tax of approximately 0.3%, would be applied to all transactions that are made through banks, such as purchases with debit or credit cards, payments of public services using internet banking, or every time a banking platform is used to move money from one account to another.
The new tax will apply for four years to all banking and securities transactions. In the first two years, it will be 0.3%. In the next two years, it will be 0.2%, said the government in its statement
• Tax is on salaries, pensions, company profits, and money transfers abroad.
In the case of wages, the tax will be staggered, from 2.5% to 10%, depending on the amount of wages. Starting with salaries of $1,400 and up.
In the case of the earnings of independent professionals, the tax will apply progressively from 2.5% to 10%, starting on reported earnings of approximately $6,110 and up.
• Tax on companies' profits. In this case, a tax would also be charged in a staggered manner, between 2.5% and 10%. Starting with reported net profits of approximately $183,302 and up.
• A 5% tax on sending money abroad. The tax will apply to people or businesses that send money to and from Costa Rica to any country, regardless if the business is or is not domiciled in the country.
• Extra house tax. Currently, the property tax is 0.25% of the taxable value of the property. The proposal is to double or an increase of 0.50% to 0.75%.
• More indirect taxes would be carried out through the elimination of exonerations that are currently in the income of cooperatives, school salary bonuses, capital income among others.
It is expected that today, the government will address its decision to stop or continue with the tax plan.