Almost $770 million short of meeting this year’s budget, President Oscar Arias has asked the Legislative Assembly to approve an extraordinary appropriation to allow the country to go into debt to close the gap.
But some legislators have been resistant, criticizing the government for “extravagant” spending and “immoral” decisions.
According to Rodrigo Arias, the president’s brother and closest adviser, the economic recession has caused Costa Rica to lose 17.5 percent of its tax revenues. This translates to a nearly $900 million loss.
“This is what is happening all over the world,” Arias said at a press conference Wednesday, saying the management of funds in Costa Rica “has been conservative compared to (other countries).”
The Arias administration has given legislators one month to approve the allocation, saying that if no action is taken, the money will automatically be appropriated.
“The only risk is if the legislature votes against it,” he said, adding that he is confident that won’t happen.
The deficit made headlines this week when Finance Minister Jenny Philips reportedly said that public employees may not get their end-of-year aguinaldos (bonuses) this year because the government doesn’t have enough funds to write those checks.
In response, Arias said he doesn’t want “to cause alarm.” He added that government workers will receive the bonuses if the Legislative Assembly carries through with appropriations.
– Chrissie Long