THE DESTINATION for funds raised from a tax increase on liquor and wines has been decided by President Ricardo Martinelli who announced his decision Via Twitter, a day after the bill got its third reading.
Martinelli, Twittered that 100% of the proceeds from the tax on liquor will go to the "guardian angel" program that assigns a subsidy of $ 80 to people with disabilities. The announcement which also says: “I cannot believe that there are those who oppose such a noble cause,” has been denounced as "demagoguery and cynical. ” Bill 559 makes no mention of the Guardian Angel program, and a 1995 law allocates liquor taxes to the fight against tuberculosis. The family of Vice President Juan Carlos Varela owns Panama’s leading liquor company, and there are no additional taxes on beer. Levies on alcohol and tobacco have been labeled “sin” taxes,” in other countries.
The President’s message was referring to political opponents calling for a more comprehensive discussion on the inclusion of all the liquor industry in the tax hike, not excluding the breweries.
Panameñista deputy Jose Blandon said the issues raised by the President and members of the Executive is only an act of "supreme demagoguery and cynicism."
The law, rushed through in three days with little debate. now awaits the president’s signature.
"That should be in the law and it is not there, what they are saying is demagoguery."
Panameñista Deputy José Luis Varela said today he supports the Guardian Angel social program, which seeks to help people with severe disabilities and those living in extreme poverty. But he expects the program to be operated in a transparent and proper manner. "We agree with the Guardian Angel program, but the money must be used well," he said.
Varela criticized the fact that the program has spent $3 million on advertising and $1.8 million on administrative costs, but nothing on the people that it was actually supposed to help. "People with disabilities have not received a cent," he said.
Varela criticized the way in which the project was carried forward, saying it was not properly discussed. "It was an imposition," he said.
According to the deputy, the price of a bottle of liquor will increase from $1.50 to $2, costs which will be passed along to the consumers.