Business Leader: “Nicaraguans Have their Hands Tied”

Michael Healy, President of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP). // Photo: Archive / Carlos Herrera / Confidencial

President of Cosep denounces that the regime maintains a “besiegement or harassment in matters of taxes” to some 300 companies

By Confidencial / EFE

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaraguans “hands are tied” from actions taken by the Ortega government against opponents, the private sector and independent media, affirmed Michael Healy. The President of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise of Nicaragua (Cosep) spoke in a teleconference.

Healy said the Executive is “besieging and harassing” the private sector. To do so they use Customs (DGA), the tax office (DGI) and the Social Security Institute (INSS). He noted that companies have little recourse before a State that controls everything, including the judiciary.

Healy denounced that Customs is overvaluing imported products with the aim of making an over collection of tariffs.

He explained that Cosep created a Tax Commission to work together with a Legal Commission to prepare a report on the actions to be taken in response to the governmental decisions, which he described as “negative” and “erroneous.”

The regime acts against companies, workers, and the economy

“What must be done is an analysis of how the tax reform (which came into force in the first quarter of last year) has been applied. It’s being mishandled by the Government and is being used as a repressive organ against companies, the media and against Nicaraguans themselves,” he said.

Healy said the tax reform has meant a “besiegement or harassment” against at least 300 companies.

“The situation in which we Nicaraguans find ourselves is very complicated, because we are under constant siege. This takes place not only at the level of civil society and [political] persecution. State entities repress and harass companies, the workers and hurt the economy of the country,” he assured.

He gave as an example the recent decision of a Managua judge who ordered the seizure of a residence and six lots of land in a luxurious property development company belonging to businesswoman Victoria Lacayo, mother-in-law of the opposition leader Juan Sebastián Chamorro. The justification was a lawsuit promoted by the Managua Mayor’s Office, managed by the Sandinistas.

He also mentioned the decision of another judge who ordered the intervention of Channel 12 television. The Ortega government wants them to pay a supposed back tax with interest from a decade ago of $607,000 dollars. Otherwise they say they will auction off four properties.

Enough is enough

“This has to be enough,” said Healy, who called on the Government to focus on solutions in this country. He suggested starting with the release of opponents detained in relation to the sociopolitical crisis occurring since April 2018. He also called on the government to guarantee free elections.

Healy warned about two bills promoted by the Sandinistas, the Special Cybercrime Law and the Law to Regulate Foreign Agents. He noted they are rejected by various sectors of society and if approved will only “aggravate” the country’s crisis.

“The government’s actions are negative and will have an impact on the economy,” said the business leader. He recalled that 600,000 jobs, formal and informal, were lost since April 2018 in the country of 6.4 million inhabitants.

“If this continues, this besiegement, this tax persecution, we are going to have a lot of bankrupt companies, higher unemployment and people on the streets,” he warned.

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