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Lawmakers move forward with $13.5 million bailout plan for tourism sector

August 17, 2015

Small and medium-sized tourism entrepreneurs hit by the global economic crisis of 2008-2009 likely will receive a boost to meet overdue debts and keep their businesses open.

A special legislative commission on tourism last week approved the drafting of bill No. 19,650 that would create an assistance program to help the entrepreneurs. If passed by the full Legislative Assembly, the program would restructure the debt of more than 70 tourism businesses and provide them with administrative consulting.

Eligible businesses are those in arrears for over 60 days or that already are facing sequestration proceedings in court.

Funding for the bailout would come from the Banking Development System (SBD), which would donate $10 million, while the Costa Rican Tourism Board would add $3.5 million for eight-year loans.

The proposal states that banks would be responsible for evaluating each case. Their assessment then would be used for outlining the specifics of debt restructuring, mostly by offering more favorable interest rates and extended periods.

The plan states that the debt to be restructured cannot exceed 33 percent of the remaining amount, with a maximum for each debtor of up to $175,000.

Lawmakers approved the draft of the bill at a Thursday evening session attended by Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura and Economy Minister Welmer Ramos. Both officials said they are in favor of the initiative and endorsed the proposed measures for selecting companies that will benefit.

The draft now heads to discussion at the full Assembly, “which is expected to approve it in an expedited process,” commission president Luis Vásquez Castro said.

The bailout plan is part of a priority list of bills sent by the executive branch to be discussed in the Legislative Assembly this month.

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