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Businesses in Costa Rica welcome president-elect Luis Guillermo Solís with a long wish list

April 7, 2014
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Barely a few minutes after Supreme Elections Tribunal President Luis Antonio Sobrado announced the first results of Sunday’s presidential runoff, several business-sector representatives began emailing President-elect Luis Guillermo Solís – with copies sent to members of the press – their lists of policy recommendations and needs.

The Costa Rican Chamber of Industries (CICR) sent a press release asking for better energy rates, more energy options, and improved conditions for job growth.

The chamber said a priority for the next administration should be boosting the economy and creating more jobs. (Solís seems to agree.)

“An increase in fuel-generated energy and the Costa Rica Electricity Institute’s growing debt are responsible for our rising costs,” CICR President Juan Ramón Rivera said.

At a press conference Monday morning, Solís addressed the CICR petition by saying he favors reducing electricity rates, but “not based on a response to a particular sector’s request, but rather in the interest of the entire country.”

The CICR’s list also includes a reduction of bureaucratic red tape, more efficient online resources, and better tax, labor and foreign trade legislation.

José Manuel Hernando, president of the Costa Rican Food Industry Chamber (CACIA), said dialogue with Solís would be vital to plan business solutions for chamber members.

CACIA also asked for lower public utility rates and less government bureaucracy. The chamber wants taxes on raw-material imports eliminated, and more regional trade integration.

Chamber of Exporters President Monica Segnini told the press recently that better access to credit would be key to boosting domestic production and employment.

Leaders of local tourism chambers also want to meet with the incoming president to request more government-sponsored tourism initiatives abroad to attract more foreign travelers. They also want better security in hotspots to prevent crimes against tourists.

“Tourism is the sector that produces the greatest benefits for Costa Rica in terms of employment and foreign currency, and we ask the president-elect to be consistent in ensuring the needs of our sector are met,” National Tourism Chamber President Isabel Vargas said.

Commercial fishing chambers also sent Solís a request for “a prompt and comprehensive solution to the problems fishermen currently face in many coastal areas,” a reference to a recent ban by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court on shrimp trawling.

Public workers’ unions joined the growing special interests list, asking to discuss with Solís “the defense of labor and wage rights.” Unions will seek the elimination of current bills before the Legislative Assembly that target workers’ benefits and salary bonuses.

Solís will take office on May 8. Within the next week he is expected to disclose the first of two lists of names of those who will serve on his Cabinet. In an interview Monday with Radio ADN, Solís said he would announce the first group on April 14, and the second a week later, on April 21.

Solís has said he will ask his vice presidents, Helio Fallas and Ana Helena Chacón, to manage some government ministries, and it is possible both will have dual roles in his administration.

The wish lists aren’t limited to business chambers, however. As Solís attended mass in San José on Monday, a group of street vendors approached and asked him to stop police harassment.

“We just want [police] to allow us make a living,” one street vendor shouted.

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