March 7, 2021

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What were the amendments to the Municipal Code?

The House of Representatives last night approved the Municipal Code with amendments, so the differences between the legislative bodies would be settled in what is known as a conference committee unless the Senate accepts the changes .

The legislative piece was not debated or presented last night in the session, but changes were included such as the elimination of the language that gave way to a reconfiguration of the tax that telecommunications companies have to pay.

Also the language that gave way to a salary increase for the mayors of towns with 25,000 inhabitants or less was eliminated and a text was also clarified to prevent municipalities from establishing municipal corporations that, in turn, compete with small and medium merchants.

In total, there are 11 laws that will be incorporated. The Municipal Code is divided into seven books: Municipal Government, Administration, Essential Services, Municipal Processes and Community Management, Economic Development, Planning and Territorial Planning and Municipal Finance.

“We are restoring the language that has to do with telecommunications ”, said Carlos" Johnny "Méndez, president of the Chamber. “We are amending to ensure that there is not a single new tax. That was a commitment that we made in 2017. ”

Méndez made reference to how the proposed Municipal Code, in essence, leveled the tax burden among large and small telecommunications companies, according to the position of the mayors, who have maintained through the unions that group them that it is not a new tax.

“The reality is that the tax that exists (the one that had been proposed) for the telecommunications companies did not do justice to the Emerging companies, the small ones and it did justice to the big ones. Obviously, I do want to protect those large companies, but it cannot be based on imposing a tax on small ones, "said the legislative leader.

Asked how he explained to the mayors this change in the measure and other issues erased from the project , Méndez argued that the current rule of law empowers mayors to increase their income by increasing the payment of patents.

Language was eliminated on the emergency spending cap without the need to go to auction, which made flexible the change orders on projects and the provision that allowed municipal corporations to compete unfairly with private companies.

"You cannot try to use the Legislative Assembly as an instrument to impose contributions because they need more resources" he said.

The language that allowed mayors to hire mechanic services to repair vehicles, was also deleted from the project. municipal equipment and computers by purchase order and without having to request quotes unless the cost reached $ 25,000. and the Chamber of Commerce, which maintained that the language with which the Senate measure came out would take place so that there would be unfair competition between the municipalities, whose corporations do not pay patents or taxes, and small and medium-sized merchants do.

Likewise, the language was removed that eliminated the cap of $ 150,000 in emergency purchases without having to carry out auctions.

Among other things, the project declares as a public policy to grant municipalities the maximum possible of autonomy and provide them with financial and fiscal tools. It is emphasized that one of its inherent powers is to impose taxes, although the caveat is that this power should not be incompatible with the same power that the State also exercises. It also provides that any legislative measure that imposes financial obligations or affects the fiscal revenues of municipal governments must identify and allocate the necessary resources.

The project incorporates the concept of consortia and a more flexible variant in legal and structure, known as inter-municipal alliances. Forces to hold a public auction when purchases exceed $ 100,000 in materials, equipment, groceries, medicines and other supplies of the same nature, when they exceed $ 200,000 in construction works or public improvements by contract and in any sale or lease of property furniture and real estate.

In the case of purchases of less than $ 100,000 for materials, equipment, groceries and other supplies, three quotations will be required. If not obtained, the employee in charge must record the reasons in a document.

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