High court approves one of Lasso’s decrees, rejects another; Cuenca records lowest temperature of the year; ‘Vigilantes’ overturn car at Parque Calderon
The Constitutional Court on Friday approved President Guillermo Lasso decree to increase the amount of exemptions taxpayers can claim but denied a second decree that would have established special tax-free zones to attract new businesses and generate investment.
The tax exemptions decree increases to $15,294 the amount of exemptions taxpayers can claim and reverses an earlier law that reduced exemptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decree also imposes the 12% value added tax on tickets for concerts and sporting events, a measure strongly opposed by professional events and sporting interests.
According to economists, the reinstatement of exemptions will cost the national budget between $200 million and $350 million in annual revenue.
Lasso praised the court’s decision on the tax exemption decree, officially called the Family Economy Decree, on Saturday but did not mention the rejection of the tax zone decree. “This will allow $195 million stay in the bank accounts of families and small businesses,” he said. “It benefits 400,000 families who can apply the funds to savings and investments and household purchases.”
Minister of Production and Foreign Trade Julio José Prado criticized the rejection of the special taxing zone, or the Attraction and Promotion of Investments decree, and suggested that the court overstepped its authority in the decision. “Under provisions of the president’s cross death authority, the court is only allowed to review decrees for constitutional and legal competence,” he said. “They are not allowed to offer political objections, which I believe they did in this case.”
Prado said the government will ask for justification of the court’s rejection and might resubmit the decree with changes in language. “It is not out of the question that we might consider ignoring the decision entirely since the court has violated constitutional rules.”
Cuenca registers lowest temperatures of the year
The weather service reported the lowest temperatures of the year in Cuenca Monday morning, including a reading of 1 degree Centigrade (34 Fahrenheit) in the San Juaquin parish, west of the city. Other lows included 1.7C (35F) at Turi and 3C (38F) at the airport. In the Cajas National Park, which is part of the Cuenca canton, a low of -5.5C (22F) was recorded.
According to the National Meteorological Service, the cool temperatures are the result of clear skies and high barometric pressure. “Without the customary overnight cloud cover we usually experience, cold air from the upper atmosphere drops down, lowering the temperatures,” a weather service statement said. It added, “The condition of clear skies raises the level of ultraviolet radiation during daylight hours, and we urge residents to take proper precautions.”
The lowest temperature ever recorded in the parishes that make up the Cuenca metropolitan area is -2C (28F) while the cantonal record in the Cajas Mountains is -10C (15F).
‘Vigilantes’ overturn a car at Parque Calderon
Several dozen people overturned a car Friday afternoon at Parque Calderon, claiming its occupants had attempted to drug and extort a woman in El Centro. Police arrested the driver while two passengers escaped.
According to the police report, the three suspected extortionists drugged the women, possibly with scopolamine, and attempted to force her into the car. When the woman yelled for help, passersby on Calle Benigno Malo interceded. “We believe the suspects intended to take the woman to her bank to have her withdraw funds which they would exchange for a fraudulent winning lottery ticket,” the police report said. “The lottery fraud is a common modality among thieves in Cuenca.”
Police added that the driver, who is undergoing questioning, has been a suspect in other lottery fraud attempts in which scopolamine was used on victims.