In her first appearance at the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce since being elected president of the nation on Feb. 7, Laura Chinchilla and her economic team presented their ideas for this and coming years.
Though some sectors of the economy have begun to show signs of recovery in recent months, Chinchilla and company assured listeners that the seeds of stability must be planted first.
“Costa Rica finds itself, surprisingly, in a good position after a type of crisis that we had never experienced, and I think that, thanks to the action taken by the government of President Oscar Arias and thanks to the steps that we have taken in the financial system, we didn´t see a dramatic reduction in the gross domestic product (GDP),” said Luis Liberman, Chinchilla´s second vice president and a former general manager of Scotiabank. “However, we did see the unemployment rate grow by almost 4 percent. That is not acceptable. So, in our case, we are looking at the things that we need to do to establish the levels of growth necessary for people both young and old to find work and reactivate the economy.”
Liberman explained that, in order to reactivate economic growth, a Chinchilla administration will center economic efforts on three central themes: generating public investment, housing, and the development of small projects within communities and municipalities. Due to a decrease in investment in the country – both foreign and local – several sectors of the country, such as construction, experienced significant drops in production in 2009. Lieberman explained that while foreign direct investment is expected to remain steady, it would be the investment of local businesses and municipalities that boosts production in the ailing sectors.
“We need to promote a series of projects at the local and municipal levels,” he said. “Local projects are much easier than big projects and, more than that, local projects create jobs for local workers while developing the city. We hope that funds will be contributed to these projects in the short term and that this will lead to longer-term development.”
Chinchilla concluded by reiterating that economic opportunity exists in the environment sector, as further development of environmentally sustainable practices are expected to generate more jobs in the upcoming years. Throughout her campaign, Chinchilla mentioned the creation of “green” jobs through improving environmental practices as an aid to increase employment.
“Two of the biggest treasures of this country are the intelligence of the people and the wealth and beauty of the environment,” she said. “And, because of that, we must keep generating wealth by continuing to develop the great opportunity that the creation of a sustainable environment presents.”
For further analysis of Chinchilla´s economic plans and the anticipated economic recovery, see the March 5 print and digital editions of the Tico Times.