Q COSTA RICA – Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solis begins his last year in office saying it’s not what people expected with the changes promised during his campaign three years ago, but the country is better off now though he still faces the persistent challenge of bringing down the deficit.

During his third State of the Nation speech to the Legislative Assembly (Congress) on May 3, Solis said that despite big obstacles, his government managed to achieve big changes.

In an interview with EFE, Solis, said his government’s National Development plan achieved 79% of its objectives, but still faces many challenges to resolve in the coming 12 months.

Solis’ term ends on May 8, 2018. Under Costa Rica’s constitution he cannot run for re-election to a consecutive term, and is unlikely to run for office in future, ruling out that possibility at the end of his first year.

The president said he feels “satisfied with these first three years and absolutely committed to resolving whatever comes in the next.”

According to figures present Wednesday in his annual report, Costa Rica went from an economic growth of 3.7% in 2015 to 4.1% in 2016, while poverty declined by 1.2%.

The country’s overall poverty rate is now at 20.5%. The President’s reported said that in the past year some 10,440 households were lifted out of poverty and 9,700 from extreme poverty, according to the report.

As for the budget deficit, 2016 closed at 5.2% of the GDP, less that the 5.4% in 2014 when Solis took office (on May 8 of that year).
Solis said that because of the positive results, there is “a small window of opportunity” to approve the new taxation proposals, one the administration’s greatest challenges.

Although Solis is not running for re-election, many of the Legislators.  “It’s going to be hard because this is an electoral year and no one likes to talk about taxes,” he said.