Friday 29 September 2023

Today In The Life Of Our Government

Paying the bills


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Dollar Exchange

¢531.62 BUY

¢538.69 SELL

29 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

Paying the bills


With all of the truly important things requiring immediate attention, Costa Rica has recently opted to side step those challenges and come up with a gold mine of trivial rules, regulations and laws which, arguably will not be enforced. Each is intended to collect some money.

Every day in Costa Rica nineteen homes are being robbed, we have perhaps the worst roads in all of the Americas resulting in continuous death and damage, corruption runs rampant from the very top of government and to the fisherman who for a US$150 will transport whatever package you want on his skiff. To top it all off we are in the process of borrowing $4billon dollars of which some 40% of the first US$1 billion tranche will be used to pay off existing debt.

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The hard and poorly fought fiscal plan of the Laura Chinchilla government was really only a tax plan in disguise. Not only has the government not reduced spending for 2013 but has budgeted an increase it by 7.7%.

Logic dictates that the legislative assembly, (those deputies who represent our best interests) the executive branch and all ministers wring their collective hands and at least make a plausible effort to keep Costa Rica from becoming another Greece.

However, more time is being spent on such trivial things such as:

  • Forming a Colegio (Guild) for those people who work in the tourism industry and requiring a yet to be defined level of expertise plus training. Paid in membership is to be required in order to port luggage to a guest´s room.
  • Forming another Colegio or guild for real estate agents who must hold national residency, must graduate from a yet to be determined course and may well have to hold a university degree. This will sure put a dent in the perpetual tourist market! The cost of membership and course fees are yet to be determined.
  • Requiring pet owner training (not pets themselves but the owners) to attend a ½ day seminar on the proper care of their pets and then selling owners a pet license for each animal. People with felony records, of which there are not too many, are prohibited from owning a pet and cannot attend the seminar.  Fees have not been determined.
  • In an attempt to demonstrate Costa Rica´s ecological seriousness (Not just fooling around to attract tourists) the government has passed an all encompassing anti-shark fining law. The only time shark fins can enter Costa Rica for exportation is by land is from Nicaragua whose government will “certify” the shark indeed had a body with the fin attached when it landed in that country. (I didn´t know we trusted Nicaragua all that much) But the soup brings upwards of US$150 a bowl and it can be purchased in Costa Rica.
  • May 8 will now be known as “Women´s Day” and it is an official holiday. We have seven months to shop for women, so let´s get at it. After all the Christmas sales started in mid-August and that is a five month head start. We have secretary´s day, children´s day, mother´s day, father’s day, Valentine´s day, day of the rising pot roast but no “Man´s Day”. Now there´s something for the government to think about; Men.
  • A new law and one that perhaps should be supported is that employers cannot give pregnancy tests before employing a female. Although, a female might well be pregnant and take the job to enjoy the many benefits and possible one year of not working while receiving full pay with a physician´s approval. I am told this is not a common practice but also not terribly uncommon either. Neither the test nor the one year sabbatical makes a lot of sense.
  • A stroke of genius among law enforcement officers, aimed at tourists leaving behind unpaid traffic tickets and skipping the country.  (See Foreigners With Traffic Fines Restricted From Leaving Costa Rica) The airport will stop them right there and make them go to the appropriate place to pay and clean the slate before heading home. Hope it is not after 4:00PM on a Friday because everything shuts down then and dad with wife and kids will need to cancel that flight home and wait until Monday morning, and purchase another ticket while enjoying the weekend activities in Liberia or San Jose or sleeping in the airport lounge. Just another incentive not to visit Pura Vida. NOTE: Most car rental agencies hold credit cards and a sizable customer deposit. Can´t they just collect on the infraction which is now digitally registered? And, what happens if it is a local and not a tourist who pays with his/her Marchamo in December? (Oh my God! A prisoner in paraiso!)
  • Do not fret about intimidating jugglers dancing alongside your car at every stop light, or handicaps asking for money, nor even the Red Cross, Salvation Army with their hands out. The new law prohibits street vending, juggling and circus-type acts, begging or asking for money, or any other commercial activity in the streets. (Saved again!)
  • Equally interesting is the all new concept that one cannot drink alcoholic beverages on public locations. That´s fine when we consider the degradation of San Jose, etc. but how about those $800 per night tourists who casually sit at, let´s say in front of “Four Seasons”, on the beach in their most comfortable sling chairs and want a bucket of ice cold Imperial to top off the hot, sunny day? “Sorry sirs, I cannot serve you. It is against the law.” (After all, the beaches are public domain.)

Thank you government! I will sleep better at knowing you are earning your income + perks  while making my taxpaying life safer each day.

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Paying the bills
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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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