QCOSTARICA – President Carlos Alvarado described as “rogue and filthy” that some legislators suggest that he or the first lady, Claudia Dobles, have ‘a business’ with the electric train project.
“Enough of throwing insinuations without evidence and lies. I have heard legislators insinuating, without any proof, that myself or the first lady has a business or something related to that. First, if they are going to launch an accusation like this, let them show proof, because launching an accusation like this without having proof is a ‘canallada’ (saying or deed unworthy or mean), that’s what it is, to stain my wife’s name and mine,” Alvarado said after following a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday in Puntarenas.
He added that the legislators ask what is the urgency of the electric train. In my opinion, the urgency is in the traffic congestion in the great metropolitan area, in particular areas such as Heredia, San Jose and Cartago, “make us incur more expenses and less competitiveness”.
The president referred to the audit by the Comptroller General (CGR) on the railway project, which determined that the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles (Incofer) incurred significant risks by skipping stages to expedite the electric train concession plan.
The document concludes that the Incofer began contracting the feasibility studies without having completed the entire analysis that supported the pre-feasibility of the project, which led to not having all the results of a stage as input for decision-making of the next.
“There is no part of the report that says the project is not viable, on the contrary, what the Comptroller’s Office issues are recommendations that, as Incofer has said, are the subject of study and even inclusions. I think it is the first time that an audit has been carried out at a stage as early as this; It is to improve the project and that is what we are going to do, take the recommendations and improve the project, but nowhere in this report is it said that it is not moving forward; that’s what opponents of the project say. We take the observations and move on,” Alvarado declared.
Alvarado believes that some legislators have used the Comptroller’s report to dismiss the project and insisted that it is in the hands of Congress to approve or reject the US$550 million financing loan that would cover the state contribution for the work.
A total of US$250 million would be provided by the United Nations Green Climate Fund, with an interest rate of 0% over a 40-year term and a decade of grace to start paying. The remaining US$300 million would be provided by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) at a rate of 3.8% per year.
The deadline to discuss this financing in the Legislative Assembly is November 1.
“I believe that those who oppose the project what they have done is take it (the Comptroller’s report) as a narrative to bury the project, but you have to see what the Comptroller’s Office says in its proper dimension. That is in the hands of the legislators,” said the president, who insisted that the work on the project would begin in 2025.
In defense of the plan, Alvarado said that the state contribution would be financed with a “practically free loan and with a donation of more than US$20 million”, in addition to helping the economic reactivation.
“The mood is perfecting it,” he said of the fast passenger rail plan.