Saturday 31 July 2021

[OP-ED] IN COSTA RICA, WHAT GOES UP IS HARD TO BRING DOWN

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While the real world shows that since June of this year, crude oil has dropped some 30% in price per barrel, our very own state owned RECOPE has offered, “soon”, to drop energy prices by .07% unless the government wishes to add more taxes per liter of gasoline in which case the price drop would be almost declared nil.

The pump does not lie!

With a 5,000 colons purchase the needle barely moves and for 10,000 it moves up a fraction. For each, the attendant leaves out a “chuckle” indicating cheapness on the buyer’s part. “No,” it is affordability.

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According to the latest consumer report by the Central American Committee for Cooperation on Hydrocarbons, Costa Rica has the highest gasoline prices in Central America.

Try this; the committee’s August report, a gallon of “Super” gasoline in Costa Rica costs $5.63, while “Plus” is $5.43 and diesel is $4.63. Not much has changed since then.

Lower than Costa Rica was El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. In Panama, for instance, the cost was $4.05 for a gallon of “Super” gasoline, $3.91 for “Plus” and $3.64 for diesel.

RECOPE blames it on government taxation increases, the government explains the neo-movement on RECOPE greed.

We, the people who work and live here do not want justification of the reasons. But, it seems like every time there is the ability to decrease the cost of living, these autonomous institutions could not care less and as a result we have super high basic energy prices in electricity, energy and water.

With that, both foreign as well as domestic investors suck their collective teeth and find new homes to park their money along with valuable jobs that we need.

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I believe that national pride and the good of Costa Rica sank to its lowest level with the construction of la Trocha, the mud road to nowhere which has since been lost in government and in its rhetoric. So much graft and corruption to carve out a mudslide that has no bridges or pavement defies the definition of “graft” and sickens national pride.

RECOPE and ICE very much need to drop its prohibitive cost to carry mantra if not for those who live here, then to retain and attract direct foreign investments.

Combine the excessive cost of living and trauma of investing; we rank as the worst country in Latin America in “competitiveness’” according to the Global Competitive Index of the world Economic Forum of Switzerland. And, we have a disaster on the horizon.

Costa Rica placed last out of 16 countries that were measured for “ease of doing business” and viable infrastructure. Even our arch enemy or brother up north, Nicaragua, placed better than Costa Rica. Worst, so did Venezuela.

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While this Administration is pontificating “change”, we must ask what is immediately needed and one of those is to reduce the cost of living which is hand-in-hand with the costs of doing business.

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Juan Sebastian Campos
An expat from the U.S., educator and writer in English and Spanish since 1978 with a doctorate in business administrations (DBA) from the United States and Germany. A feature writer for ABC News, Copley Press and the Tribune Group with emphasis on Central America.

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