Costa Rica’s tourism businesses, particularly lodging and food services, owe the Social Security System, or Caja, a whopping ₡3.7 billion ($6.8 million) in unpaid obligations. Now the public health care agency hopes to recover some of that debt by signing an agreement with the National Tourism Chamber (CANATUR) to promote payment plans among its associates.
According to the Caja’s debt collection department, a total of 78 of CANATUR’s 455 members are in debt to the Caja to the tune of ₡355 million ($660,000).
Under the agreement CANATUR must inform its associates of the options available to establish payment plans with the Caja. CANATUR will offer assistance with payment options, and officials from the Caja’s collections department will travel the country speaking directly with tourism business owners, Abarca said Thursday at a press conference.
Luis Diego Calderón, director of the Caja’s collections department, said the agreement is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to reduce businesses’ debts with the Caja.
“Those efforts during the first quarter this year have allowed us to reduce employers’ debts by about 35 percent,” he said.
The Caja currently is moving to shut down 92 delinquent businesses. The agency’s legal department is working on another 219 cases, while 90 businesses were sued for unlawfully withholding employees’ salary deductions, Calderón said.
Payment plans with the Caja allow employers to avoid paying interest and being charged for medical care provided to their employees at Caja hospitals. Legal action initiated against companies also would be suspended.
CANATUR’s Abarca said the informative campaigns the group will be airing “are evidence of the sector’s commitment to the country’s economic well-being and its social security system.”
The plan’s target figure, however, is not as significant as the number of debtors from the tourism sector that are not affiliated with the chamber.
The Caja’s director of debt collections control, José Rojas López, said a total of 150 businesses not affiliated with CANATUR owe ₡888.3 million ($1.6 million).
Rojas said the agreement’s goal is not to pursue debtors from the tourism sector but to inform them about the options available for settling their debts.
For further information, tourism business owners can contact CANATUR at: 2234-6222.