The proposed tax reform by right-wing President Evan Duke has sparked widespread public outrage and protests across Colombia.
Colombian President Evan Duke has said he is withdrawing controversial tax reform proposals after thousands of protesters took to the streets across the South American country for days to condemn the move.
In a video Sunday, Duke said he would ask Congress to withdraw the finance ministry’s proposed law “to avoid financial uncertainty” and to process a new law on an emergency basis as a result of the Sens reduction. “
The proposed reforms, which the right-wing government insisted were necessary to stabilize Colombia’s finances, maintain its credit rating and fund social programs, have drawn widespread public outrage and protest.
The plan included leveling new or expanded taxes on citizens and businesses, as well as sales taxes on utilities and certain foods.
However, many Colombians who are already reeling from the Carnavirus-related economic downturn say the reforms will make them tougher.
“We’re here to say ‘no’ to tax reform,” said Sol Martinez, a teacher. Al Jazeera said during a protest Wednesday in the capital, Bogota. “They are robbing our poor people, while they give everything to the rich people.”
Human Rights Watch said it had confirmed the deaths of six people involved in the protests. “I call this protest peaceful and call on the security forces to respect human rights,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of HRW America. Tweeted.
On Friday the Duke said the controversial reform would be amended but could not fully withdraw it.
Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti from Bogota said Sunday’s announcement by the right-wing president was “a big victory for the protesters” and “shows how weak Evan Duke’s government is at the moment.”
Rampetti said the duke came out of the running and became politically isolated.
“There was widespread opposition to the reforms, both among lawyers and his coalition partners, and with his own party. So I really don’t think he has much more choice than to eventually repeal this reform, “he said.
Lawmakers, unions and other groups hailed the announcement as a victory. The casserolajos of the celebration, the traditional thematic protest where people beat pots and pitchers, can be heard in some neighborhoods.
Leftist Senator Evan Sipeda said on Twitter, “It is the youth, social organizations and organized citizens who have seen death and defeated the government.” “The government should not do the same reforms with make-up. Citizens will not adopt the strategy. “
Nevertheless, the Duke said on Sunday that tax reform was urgent.
He said political parties, local officials, business leaders and civil society parties have contributed valuable ideas over the past few days.
Duke said there is a sense of urgency about the need for a temporary tax on trade and dividends, an increase in income tax for richer and deeper state austerity measures.
“It’s a moment for all of us to work together without weakness,” he said.