1. Another Borrowed $500: Just days after the IMF gave CR $1.7 billion... wow!!!!!!
2. COVID Management: Vaccination progress In a country where the government attitude is basically, "how can I make this as complicated as possible and thwart the goal..." in this case, the COVID program is definitely the exception... with at "can do and will do" attitude... amazing and...
3. Unemployment: The number of empty storefronts in strip malls is amazing. And shortages of product is beginning to be felt... eg. we need a chemical to keep the pool water clear... we are told there is none in the country... we haven't solved this problem yet... Construction continues unabated... new residential / new commercial / road work -international and local... amazing -and no one is protesting.
1. IDB approves $500 million loan for Costa Rica
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said Wednesday that it has approved two loans to Costa Rica totaling $500 million.
“Costa Rica will press ahead with its structural fiscal reforms program aimed at boosting fiscal management efficiency and equity and promoting sustainable economic recovery with two loans totaling $500 million approved by the Inter-American Development Bank,” the Washington, D.C.-based financial agency reported.
“The operations will provide budget support to the country and support policy reforms to ensure fiscal sustainability and uphold short- and medium-term macroeconomic stability.”
One of the two $250 million loans will complement the country’s economic reforms that were part of the Costa Rica’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It will also support “assistance for households and businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis.”
The second operation “will contribute to strengthening public finances and fostering solid economic recovery in the post-pandemic stage.”
The IDB did not specify the interest rate for either loan but said they will be based on the London Inter-bank Offered Rate (LIBOR), an international benchmark. The first has a seven-year term following a three-year grace period; the second has a 20-year term after a 5.5-year grace period.
Costa Rica’s total active portfolio with the IDB is for $1.4 billion, much of which is earmarked for improving the transportation sector.
“The government’s commitment to the health and stability of public finance and the goals of the National Decarbonization Plan 2018-2050 will be key elements in deepening the Bank’s actions under the pillars of this country strategy,” the IDB says.
2. Costa Rica receives largest shipment of Covid vaccines
Costa Rica received a shipment of 124,020 Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccines on Tuesday night and has been delivered 1.38 million total doses from that pharmaceutical and the Covax mechanism.
The Social Security Fund (Caja) reports 950,252 total doses applied, which represents 75% of the total vaccines received by Costa Rica through last week.
Month Doses applied
“In May a higher entry of vaccines is expected than in April, which will lead to an increase in the application of doses,” the Presidency said in a statement.
More than 16% of the Costa Rican population that needs to be vaccinated already has at least one dose of a vaccine, per government figures. Authorities project the inoculation of people over 65 years of age will be completed by May 15, and all Group 2 before the end of June.
“The Government of the Republic insists on its call to abide by sanitary measures: social distancing, respect for social bubbles and hand washing,” the Presidency said. “In this way, between all of them, the increase in Covid-19 infections will be flattened and we will avoid the saturation of hospital services.”
Costa Rica’s vaccine priority is as follows:
- First group: Staff and residents at retirement or nursing homes.First responders, including health personnel.
- Second group: Costa Rica’s older population, defined here as those ages 58 and up. According to the Presidency, this group will be required to demonstrate residency with a cédula or DIMEX.
- Third group: People from 18-58 with risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness, kidney disease and obesity, among others.
- Fourth group: Teachers and other staff within the Education Ministry (MEP) or private schools. Imprisoned people and judicial staff. Workers for the 911 service.
- Fifth group: Health science students and related technicians in clinical fields. People ages 40-57 without any of the aforementioned risk factors but whose work puts them in contact with others. Then, all remaining adults.
Costa Rica is currently vaccinating Groups 1 and 2 in the above list, and many regions have started administrations for Group 3.
Vaccines are free through the Social Security System and are not yet available for private purchase, though the Health Ministry last month authorized the private sector to import doses.
Vaccinations are administered at EBAIS, which are the public-health clinics that comprise part of Costa Rica’s national healthcare system.
Each individual EBAIS manages a list of people who live in their jurisdiction. This list is used to identify priority individuals and to schedule their vaccine appointments.
If you are in one of the priority groups, you should contact your local EBAIS, make sure they have your contact information, and confirm you’re on their list.
The “Grupos de vacunación por Áreas de Salud y Contacto” section lists all of the hundreds of EBAIS across Costa Rica and shows which populations they are currently vaccinating (e.g. between 70 and 80 years old, between 58 and 64 years old, etc.).
Further down the page, the “Información de Contacto” section lists the appropriate contact information (phone number and email address) for each EBAIS.
To track vaccine shipments, click here.
3. Costa Rica unemployment rate remains elevated at 18.7%
Unemployment in Costa Rica was 18.7% in the moving quarter from January to March 2021, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (Inec).
This represents a small increase (0.2 percentage points) compared to the moving quarter from December to February.
Compared to the same quarter of last year, unemployment in Costa Rica has increased by 6.2 percentage points. Women continue to have a higher unemployment rate than men — 26.1% and 13.7%, respectively.
Informal employment represents 46.6% of those with jobs. That comprises nearly 929,000 Costa Ricans.
Meanwhile, the INEC calculated the underemployment rate — the percentage of employed people who work fewer than 40 hours a week and want to work more hours — at 16.4%, a 4 p.p. year-over-year increase.
The working-age population outside the workforce was estimated at 1.58 million people, a statistically significant increase of 126,000 compared to last year.
The drop in employment continues to be associated with commerce and services activities (186,000 people), especially in education and health, and hotels and restaurants.
Unemployment in Costa Rica had reached 12% in March 2020, already one of the highest levels recorded in the country until then, but it soared to 24% due to the impact of the pandemic in the moving quarter from May to July 2020.