After four days of intense protests, a number of deaths and dozens of serious injuries, the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, announced that the tax reform that led to the protests will be withdrawn from Congress, and that he will submit a new proposal in accordance with the consensus reached in the discussion with political parties.
“I ask the Congress of the Republic to withdraw the project filed by the Ministry of Finance and urgently process a new project as a result of consensus and thus avoid financial uncertainty,” said Duque.
Likewise, he reiterated what he has already maintained over the last days, that the reform will be carried out, and insisted that it is not a whim, but in his opinion it is necessary to stabilize and reassure international markets although it would be affecting the citizens of the country.
"La decisión de haber presentado la Reforma de Transformación Social Sostenible tiene un único propósito y es el de dar estabilidad fiscal al país, proteger los programas sociales de los más vulnerables y generar condiciones de crecimiento" Presidente @IvanDuque pic.twitter.com/wcwuXILp16
— Presidencia Colombia 🇨🇴 (@infopresidencia) May 2, 2021
“The reform is not a whim, it is a necessity,” Duque emphasized. “To withdraw it or not, it was not the discussion, the real discussion is to be able to guarantee the continuity of social programs,” he added, without mentioning that social programs are almost nonexistent in Colombia.
What will the new reform look like?
Duque announced some of the points that the new tax reform proposal will have, on which agreement has been reached between the government, business guilds, and political parties:
• Temporary income surcharge to companies
• Extension of the temporary estate tax
• Temporary increase of the tax on dividends
• Implementation of an income surcharge for people with higher incomes
• Deepening the austerity programs of the State
In addition, it is hoped that the expansion of different social programs such as the Solidarity Income, VAT compensation and the Program of Support for Employment Form l (PAEF) can be continued.
Duque also pointed out that the new reform will not include the proposals that sought to extend VAT and income tax to individuals; some of the reasons why citizens took to the streets to demand its withdrawal.
“There will be no increase in VAT for goods and services nor will the existing rules be changed,” said the president. “I wish to clarify that no one who currently does not pay income tax will have to pay that tax.”
Reactions to the withdrawal of the tax reform
After Duque’s announcement to withdraw the proposed tax reform and submit a new one, personalities of Colombian politics expressed their opinions on the matter.
One of them was the former presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, who wrote on Twitter that the Colombian people, with their power and self-confidence, have changed history. He particularly thanked the youth and the working people of Colombia for this victory.
El pueblo colombiano ha ganado. es suya esta victoria popular, ha aprendido la fuerza de su propia acción colectiva. Ha ganado en confianza en sî mismo y la posibilidad de cambiar la Historia.
Gracias juventud, gracias gente trabajadora.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) May 2, 2021
Senator Iván Cepeda warned the government not to present the same reform again with only some cosmetic changes to it, because the people will not wish to get cheated.
Son los jóvenes, las organizaciones sociales y la ciudadanía movilizada, quienes pusieron los muertos y derrotaron al gobierno.
Que el gobierno no vaya a presentar la misma reforma maquillada. La ciudadanía no aceptará engaños. Se requiere que los poderosos pongan recursos.
— Iván Cepeda Castro (@IvanCepedaCast) May 2, 2021
Also, there have been criticisms of heavy police repression and state terrorism, and lament for lost lives who will never return, whereas others have pointed out that the socio-economic problems in Colombia are much broader, and social discontent would not end with the withdrawal of the tax reform.
La ciudadanía logró retirar la reforma TRIBUTARIA , pero las vidas jamás se van a recuperar, @IvanDuque y la cúpula militar deben responder por los muertos. NO PUEDE QUEDAR EN LA IMPUNIDAD
— Ariel Ávila (@ArielAnaliza) May 2, 2021
No es suficiente retirar la reforma tributaria, aquí el descontento social va mucho más allá. ¡La extrema derecha no puede seguir dirigiendo a Colombia!
— Sara Tufano (@SaraTufanoZ) May 2, 2021
Patricia Villegas Marín, head of Telesur, pointed out that during the four days of protests there were 21 assassinations, 208 injures (18 of them eye injuries), 10 reports of sexual violence, and 503 detentions, most of them arbitrary.
Colombia. @IvanDuque acaba de retirar la reforma tributaria y anuncia un NUEVO proyecto. Este es el balance de la represión de su gobierno, ante la movilización popular. Fuente: defender la libertad. pic.twitter.com/kBlwDpIzCH
— Patricia Villegas Marin (@pvillegas_tlSUR) May 2, 2021
Featured image: President Iván Duque of Colombia is temporarily withdrawing the controversial tax reform after nationwide protests, heavy police repression, several deaths and dozens of injures. Photo courtesy of RedRadioVE.
(RedRadioVE) by Ana Perdigón, with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune