El Salvador raises taxes to fund security forces

El Salvador levies new taxes on big companies and telecommunications to create funds for security forces

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A policeman stands guard at a crime scene where four men were executed in the town of Cojutepeque, El Salvador October 21, 2015.

El Salvador's congress on Thursday approved new taxes on big companies and on phone and Internet usage in order to raise funds to strengthen the police and other security institutions in one of the world's most violent countries.

Under the new regulations, large companies with profits of over $500,000 will be forced to pay an additional 5 percent tax, while a new levy of five percent will be added to all phone, mobile and internet services for a period of five years.

Revenues raised from the new taxes will be used to fund police, investigators and other security institutions, according to the document approved by lawmakers.

El Salvador has been roiled by a grim tide of gang violence that has saddled it with one of the world's highest murder rates at 68.6 homicides per 100,000 people.

The number of murders during the first nine months of this year was 72 percent more than for the same period last year.

Violence has been increasing since the breakdown last year of a 2012 truce between the country's principal gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and rival Barrio 18.

Salvadoran police have said that 80 percent of homicides are related to purges and infighting in the gangs.

Suspected gang members have also stepped up attacks on government buildings and allegedly killed police officers, soldiers and bus drivers.