Chile to raise jail time for tax dodgers

Pedro Gonçalves
Chile to raise jail time for tax dodgers

Chile wants to raise the minimum jail sentence for tax evaders to 18 months as part of reforms intented to ease the turbulence that has rocked the country.

The Chilean government plans to introduce tougher sanctions in order to increase protection for consumers and tackle white-colar crime. The minimum 18 months will apply to insider trading as well as tax crimes, Economy minister Lucas Palacios told CNN Chile .

Under the reforms, there will be heavy sanctions for anti-competitive practices, more powers for competition regulator Fiscalia Nacional de Economia, and rules to protect and award whistleblowers who alert regulators to criminal activity.

Five weeks of unrest over inequality and shabby social services have left at least 26 dead and more than 13,500 injured, prosecutors said.

The protests initially began over a now-suspended price hike for subway tickets in Santiago but have since expanded, revealing anger among ordinary Chileans who feel they have been excluded from the nation's economic rise.

Almost a third of Chilean workers are employed in informal or non-permanent jobs, and one in two people in the nation of 18 million has low literacy skills, according to the OECD. Many are frustrated over economic inequalities, living costs, rising debt and corruption in a country that remains among the most prosperous and stable in Latin America. 

President Sebastian Pinera has attempted to assuage the protesters, introducing measures to raise the minimum wage, boost government subsidised pensions, lower medical bills, hold electricity costs steady and forgive up to 80% of fines incurred on toll roads - a serious barrier to simply driving or buying a car.


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