Government extends ‘national dialogue’ on tax proposals until December
National Assembly President Gabriela Rivadeneira said on Wednesday that the “national dialogue” about a proposal to increase inheritance and capital gains taxes will be extended to December. In June, when he withdrew the tax proposals from the Assembly, President Rafael Correa said that the dialogue would end in September.
The announcement means that the tax proposals will probably not be reintroduced to the Assembly until January 2016.
“This is a critically important issue about social justice in Ecuador and we have decided that the dialogue should not be rushed to a conclusion,” Rivadeneira said. “We have extended it for three months,” she said, adding that the representatives of the government are already meeting with the public to discuss the taxes.
Correa withdrew the proposals following large protests in Guayaquil and Quito and before the visit of Pope Francis, saying that time was needed to explain the taxes to the public.
Although business groups are willing to participate in a discussion with the government, they say they are disappointed by government statements attacking its opponents. They claim that the new taxes will hurt family owned businesses and discourage new investment. They also say that the scope of the conversation should be expanded beyond tax issues, to include recent government regulations affecting business.
Other groups, including those who plan a national strike August 13, refuse to participate in the dialogue, saying that the government is not acting in good faith. Severino Sharupi, who heads the indigenous confederation CONAIE, says the government cannot be trusted and that there is no reason for discussions. “They have proven that they are not trustworthy and their main interest is having us call off the strike. We will not do this,” he said.
CONAIE, labor, teachers and retired persons groups, say they oppose the inheritance tax but have more important complaints against government policy, including the withdrawal of support for the Social Security system, water management and mining policies.
The decision to extend the national dialogue coincides with Correa’s announcement that Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño will take a two-month leave of absence to participate in the dialogue and to build support for the government’s “citizen’s revolution.”
On Tuesday, the National Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that recognizes the right to freedom of expression but condemns efforts by the political opposition to “destabilize” the government. The resolution stressed the importance of the national dialogue “as a democratic means to resolve differences and advance towards the construction of more just, equal and united Ecuador.”