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Unions call for nationwide protest against proposed budget cuts

Public employee unions will hold a demonstration on Oct.20 to urge lawmakers not to cut salary bonuses from Costa Rica’s budget for 2015.

The National Association of Public and Private Employees (ANEP) is calling for a large protest to begin at 11 a.m. in San José’s Central Park. The demonstration will continue to the Legislative Assembly.

Some of the slogans ANEP leaders plan to use include: “I’m not responsible for the fiscal deficit”; “I don’t dodge taxes”; and “I’m not lazy or corrupt.”

A pamphlet circulating in government offices argues that wage bonuses are lawful and cannot be eliminated. “We live in a state of law, and these benefits are protected by vested rights,” the pamphlet states.

The document claims that the business sector “concentrates wealth, dodges taxes and is pushing to maintain an unfair Costa Rican tax structure.”

Lawmakers from several political parties have voiced the need to cut a proposed 2015 budget of ₡7.9 trillion ($14.5 billion), submitted by President Luis Guillermo Solís on Sept. 1.

That proposal would allot more than ₡1 billion ($1.8 million) for salary bonuses and overtime for public workers.

Solís has said he is open to making some cuts that wouldn’t affect essential and “strategic” plans for his administration.

The Assembly’s Financial Affairs Commission currently is discussing the draft budget and will issue an overview by Oct. 20. The budget then must be approved by the full Assembly in two separate rounds of voting.

Last year, lawmakers approved the 2014 budget at a total of ₡6.6 trillion ($13.1 billion).

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