On April 3, Senator David Barguil (Partido Conservador – allied with the ruling party) called into question the presentation made by banking sector representatives who filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court to request the revocation of Article 92 of the Economic Growth Law. The article makes it mandatory for the financial sector to pay a surcharge of an additional four points in their income tax returns. Barguil was critical of the fact that the presentation was filed in the context of the COVID-19 health and economic emergency and stated that “the formal request that all we Colombians should make is that they withdraw their complaint and pay the taxes due so that the State has the resources it needs to tackle this crisis.” In light of this, the banks opted to withdraw the lawsuit on April 6.
Thanks to Article 92 of the Economic Growth Law, the surcharge paid by the financial system allows the Colombian state to collect over USD 495 million, earmarked for infrastructure works. In fact, Senator Barguil originally drafted this article for inclusion in the 2018 Financing Law. However, in 2019, the Banking Association raised a complaint against the article before the justice system, and managed to get it revoked. But the new tax reform adopted in 2019 once again included the article which was this time unanimously passed in Congress.
“This is disgraceful. Instead of showing some solidarity at this time, they are suing so as not to have to pay any more. The financial sector should, without need for obligation, be paying these extra income points instead of expecting to have their taxes reduced like the other companies that really need this,” said the senator. “In other words, the banks, on top of not slashing interest rates for Colombians in these famous grace periods announced over the last few days, now have the nerve to request not to pay the surcharge which was approved with the full support of Congress,” exclaimed Barguil.