Chinchilla Accused of Stalling Efforts to Decentralize
Government officials, local leaders and consultants all but set off fireworks at the presentation of the decentralization law at the Crowne Plaza Corobicí Hotel in May.
With an elaborate lunch buffet and speeches by outgoing President Oscar Arias and his brother Minister to the President Rodrigo Arias,which brought standing ovations, the attendees celebrated the fact that municipalities had finally succeeded in wresting power and financial resources away from the central government.
Under the new Law to Strengthen Municipalities and Decentralization (FOMUDE), the central government has seven years to effect a transfer of at least 10 percent of public resources to local governments; it must also ensure that the infrastructure is in place for municipalities to use the funds productively.
But, three months later, municipalities have not seen the promised support.
“The people in the Planning Ministry are centralized people,they are not people who think decentralized,” said José Francisco Peralta, a lawyer for the Institute for Municipal Development (IFAM). “It’s not that they want to hinder the process of decentralization, but they feel they need to evaluate the process more.”
At a press conference this week, President Laura Chinchilla dismissed claims that her government has been purposefully delaying the transfer of power.
“No one is delaying anything,” she said. “The law was approved. The process was set in place. And we are going to implement it.”
But the factor that has blocked the decentralization effort for decades – an alleged lack of capacity by local governments – is also tying up Chinchilla in putting the legislation into effect.
She said she is not comfortable transferring power when municipalities aren’t prepared to manage the additional resources.
“We want to make sure that at the moment we turn over management, service improves, not get worse,” she said. “Our mission has always been the same – to comply with the law – but at the same time we need to guarantee we don’t disrupt service to the public.”
She said the government is working “rigorously” on advancing the decentralization process.
The law is currently undergoing assessment at the Planning Ministry, as the Institute for Municipal Development and local governments push for movement forward.
You may be interested
Pic of the Day: Costa Rica’s Isla Nublar (aka Cocos Island)Alejandro Zúñiga - April 18, 2019
Isla Nublar, the setting for much of the "Jurassic Park" series, is unfortunately not a real Costa Rican island. Cocos…
Costa Rica holds Maduro regime responsible for diplomat’s safetyAFP and The Tico Times - April 18, 2019
The Costa Rican Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that it places responsibility with the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro for…
Venezuela withdraws diplomatic credential from Costa Rican diplomatAFP and The Tico Times - April 17, 2019
Venezuela withdrew the diplomatic credential from the Costa Rican chargé d'affaires on Tuesday in retaliation for the country’s acceptance of…