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Costa Ricans continue paying high gas prices but have the worst roads in Central America

June 4, 2014

Though the country’s gas prices continue to rise, Costa Rican roads are still ranked the worst in Central America according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF’s 2014 Global Enabling Trade Report ranks Costa Rica’s roads 116th out of 138 countries, the worst in Central America and the fourth worst in all of Latin America – with only Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela ranking lower. Costa Rica also ranked the third lowest in Latin America for port infrastructure, beating out only Venezuela and land-locked Bolivia. According to the report, the nation’s infrastructure is one of its largest competitive disadvantages.

Since January, the price of “Plus” gasoline in Costa Rica has increased by $0.76 per gallon, according to data from the Costa Rican National Oil Refinery. In 2008, Plus gasoline replaced “Regular,”which had a lower octane rating. “Super” gasoline is higher octane and costs more. As of May 29, Costa Rica’s Plus gas prices were at approximately $5.13 a gallon. According to GlobalPetrolPrices.com, which compiles weekly gasoline data for most countries, this makes Costa Rican gas the second most expensive in Central America behind Belize at $5.32 per gallon. Panama has the cheapest gas in the region at $3.96 per gallon.

The high fuel prices are due in part to Costa Rica’s 29 percent gas tax, which goes directly to the National Roadway Council (CONAVI) for roadwork, but the tax revenue hasn’t been able to improve the country’s roads. A 2013 study by engineers from the National Structural Materials and Models Laboratory found that between 15 and 20 percent of Costa Rica’s roads were paved with unsuitable materials. Construction of the deficient roads represented an investment of more than $23 million from CONAVI, 22 percent of the organization’s two-year budget.

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