A widely rejected tax reform that was approved by Colombia’s Congress in December may become President Ivan Duque’s latest humiliation in court.
Several senators and jurists have announced they will challenge the so-called “Economic Growth and Job Creation Bill” that has been rejected by economists and has fueled anti-government protests since November.
The “Finance Law” as the reform was called in 2018 was sunk by the Constitutional Court in October because Congress approved the bill unlawfully.
Duque wouldn’t listen to economists or protesters, but he can’t ignore the court
According to center-right Senator Roy Barreras (U Party), he found multiple unlawful acts that allowed the approval of the loathed tax reform, but would end the tax discounts to large companies in court.
Media and jurists found other vices in the voting process that could allow the protesters a victory in court they could not obtain in the streets.
Barreras’ legal arguments
- The House “partially” approved the bill, which would have required a conciliatory vote between the two chambers.
- The government allegedly added 50 articles ahead of the House vote that were never approved by the Senate, which also required reconciliation.
- The senate vote that approved the bill before the House did was allegedly never formally opened.
The congressional chaos
Barreras’ arguments aren’t the only ones, Cable Noticias reported.
Presumably overcome by exhaustion and in his rush to enjoy his three-month Christmas recess, House president Carlos Cuenca (Radical Change) called the final vote vote on December 20 at “05AM.”
The House secretary then said the vote would be held at “0.5AM.”
What they meant was five minutes past midnight, or 00:05AM.
Opposition Representative German Navas (PDA) told Cable Noticias that “if anyone tries to challenge the error they could possible have success, because if you convoke a meeting at 5AM You can’t begin that session five hours earlier.”
Daniel Liberas, one of the jurists who successfully sunk the first version of the tax reform, said that he too would challenge the law as soon as the court’s recess ends on January 12.
The director of the National University’s Fiscal Observatory told Cable Noticias that “Congress again has committed an insuperable procedural error that should result in the new tax reform… going down in the high courts.”
Did Duque screw up again?
Similar “vices” in the approval of the tax reform triggered the court to declare the first attempted law unconstitutional in October.
Previously, the Constitutional Court sunk half of Duque’s repressive drug policy when it ruled consuming drugs and alcohol in public was a constitutional liberty.
The president’s attempt to resume the aerial fumigation of coca, the base ingredient for cocaine, also came to a halt in the same court room.
Duque refused to negotiate the tax reform or any policy with strike leaders and protesters, but is now at risk of a public humiliation in court.