The San Juan Daily Star
Governor asks Legislature to exclude CRIM, new CFCs tax formula from budget talks
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia asked the island’s legislative leadership on Wednesday to remove the issue of taxes on controlled foreign corporations (CFCs) and structural changes for the Municipal Revenues Collection Center (CRIM by its Spanish acronym) from the budget approval discussion.
“That [budget] bill has its number, it is a separate bill and there is no need to insert into it the other very important bill, which is the one that addresses Law 154 on the change in position of the federal Department of the Treasury regarding the creditability of the payment of excise taxes under Law 154,” the governor said at a press conference. “That must also be addressed without inserting other issues that could cause a blockage.”
“Here you have to give in. The CRIM bill has already been voted on in the House and approved,” Pierluisi said. “Well, it can be put to a vote in the Senate and we will see what the vote is. If that is what is causing the blockage, it seems to me that what is fair and reasonable is that the budget be addressed on its merits, and the issue of 154 be addressed on its merits and any other bill that remains pending is put to a vote, and so on. We will know the feeling of the majority. This is how democracy should work.”
The budget measure has not been approved in the Senate because, said Sen. José Luis Dalmau Santiago, the upper chamber president, the bill has been “kidnapped” by his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Speaker Rafael “Tatito” Hernández Montañez, who allegedly insists that the three bills must all be approved or none will.
Hernández Montañez said in retort that the bill has not been passed because of “lack of leadership” from Dalmau Santiago.
On Tuesday afternoon Dalmau Santiago had asked Hernández Montañez to deliver the complete budget bill, as agreed, and to remove from the CRIM reassessments the bill, alleging that there were no votes for that measure.
“That is irresponsible and especially when it comes to the country’s budget,” Dalmau Santiago said at a press conference. “So today, the speaker of the House has assumed an intemperate, challenging attitude, which departs from restraint, from the moderation that should exist between the presidents of the bodies and the legislators of all the parties … and the misrepresentation that the speaker of the House has used that does not pay for the legislation that is being discussed. We have to find a solution for the country, but not create it.”
“We had meetings last night in this office, with other colleagues from other parties, asking them to bring us the budget to attend to it. It never arrived,” he added. “Why? Because the budget has been kidnapped by the speaker of the House, setting as a condition that we approve the other bill, the foreigners’ [CFCs] law, but with a small detail, that in that bill there are some amendments including another bill, other matters. He wants the [CFCs] bill … to be approved with his bills that were rejected by the Financial Oversight and Management Board, by the secretary of the Treasury and by the federal Treasury. Because the [CFCs] measure … has nothing to do with the other measure that he wants and that he has tried to get approved and has not been able to get approved, and he knows it.”
Dalmau Santiago characterized the amendments to the CFCs bill sought in the House as “obsessions” of Hernández Montañez.
“The speaker of the House of Representatives, Rafael ‘Tatito’ Hernández Montañez, is obsessed with raising taxes on the people of the country. On the working class,” Dalmau Santiago said. “And here in the Senate we are not willing to raise taxes on anyone. Tatito hijacks the budget and says that the Senate did not act, telling you that [the bill] never came, in exchange for raising taxes by reducing property taxes and making humble people who do not pay today pay.”
“We are ready to meet on the budget. Send it,” the Senate president said.
Hernández Montañez said in reaction on his social networks: “The greatest friend of truth is time. Not 24 hours have passed and they are already changing the version that motivated the non-approval of the measures.”
“The prudent and the correct thing was to recognize, from the beginning, that they never had the votes that they claimed to have,” he added. “The House always tells the truth.”
On Wednesday, the governor said in his capacity as president of the New Progressive Party that he is “ashamed at a distance” of the behavior of the legislative leaders who had been publicly at odds for several days.
“Well, in contrast to the leadership of the other main party, here we are united in every important cause and we respect each other,” the governor said.
“Here you don’t see what is being seen in the media, which makes me ashamed of the attacks and insults between legislative leaders who are members of the other party,” Pierluisi said in response to questions from the press. “So one says, but what is this?”