...Once Every 823 Years...

ISSUE #547: Feb 1-7, 2015


Brian Timmons, Newsletter Author
Brian Timmons

Dear friends,

When I started Residencias Los Jardines, I started writing a weekly news letter -determined to tell all the good, bad, and the ugly. I knew some readers would be interested in the construction process. I expected others might be interested in the lifestyle of two people who had decided to live outside the box. For others, the adventures of Lita, the parrot and the cat took on an entertainment saga all its own.

Residencias Los Jardines is finished. We periodically have resales and rental availability. Some readers may be interested in this information.

Brian Timmons
Residencias Los Jardines / https://www.residenciaslosjardines.com info@residenciaslosjardines.com


Featured house this week

Paradisus Condos / Rohrmoser

Paradisus Condos - click to visit

Each of the units consists of two bedrooms / two bathrooms, and a large living/dining/kitchen area. The floor plan of each of these units has eliminated the optional "den / office" divider. The result is a larger area offering more flexible furniture arrangements while still maintaining the option of including an office area. At 105m2 plus two parking spots each and storage locker, they offer a great opportunity for someone seeking views, security, central location, and first class, all round living...

Read more about Paradisus Condos


Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales

Market Activity

Sales: one inquiry.

Rentals: one showing.



Unit #114: $235,000 / See Unit

Unit #116: $214,000 / See Unit

Site Plan



UNIT #114
FOR SALE $235,000

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): Single Floor
Type: Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.


UNIT #116
FOR SALE $214,000

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): Single Floor
Type: Semi-Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf single floor home includes a 300 sf front terrace plus parking for one car and a separate, secure storage locker. It is and end unit and therefore attached on only one side by a 6 inch cement demising (common) wall, which prevents sound transfer.


Our Lives

WEATHER: The normal trade winds for this time of year have returned....but otherwise "perfect"...

Follow Ups:

Ryan Piercy disappears: an announcement by Casa Canada that he had been kidnapped was all that appeared in news print.  The announcement also said that his son had not gone missing.

Once Every 823 Years: This is the only time in the next 823 years that February will have 4 Sundays, 4 Saturdays, and 4 of everything else... It started on a Sunday and has 28 days... Interesting bit of trivia but who figures this out and why?


News Items of the Week


1) Costa Rica announced that they were going to allow the colony to float freely and would intervene only in cases of major disruptions in an otherwise normal set of changes. Having said that, they seem to have intervened several times since... While the colon seems to be gradually floating up, the rate is not significant.  We'll see over time.

2) Corporate Tax: A decision which could have been reached BEFORE the deadline was in fact delayed until after.  The decision that even though the corporation tax is illegal that it will be allowed to stand for this year because it's already been paid... As the opinion states, this is BS...

3) Inflation: the drop in gas has masked the rate of inflation in basic items, eg. food.

4) Public Wage Increases: they have been reduced significantly this year.

5) Coke is considering expanding mainly in fruit and non-core product lines...

6) INCESA, a producter of ceramic bathroom articles is packing up and moving to where the cost of production is cheaper.

7) 42 People and counting are Indicted for alleged misdeeds on" La Troncha" -the scandal ridden road which violated all CR engineering (?) and environmental standards in the name of "emergency" which was never called and the road was built in virtual secrecy when a dozen or so Nicaraguans set up camp on an island claimed by CR but to which CR had no access to...


1. Uncertainty follows move to let dollar float
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Banco Central's decision to let the U.S. dollar float against the colon has generated plenty of uncertainty.

Olivier Castro, president of the Banco Central, dropped the bombshell, and the Asociación Bancaria Costarricense quickly said in a statement that the route the Banco Central was taking is the correct one and that the central bank would avoid speculative movements.

What other steps the central bank will take remains to be seen exactly what the central bank will do. The banking association characterized letting the dollar float was a first step in stemming inflation.

The Banco Central prohibited in the middle of last year individuals and companies from bidding on dollars at the daily money market. They restricted that type of transaction just to banks.  

Last March the dollar was 571 against the colon and the Central bank was pouring in millions to keep it from getting higher. The bank said then that it dropped $19 million in the money market defending the colon.

The bank reported in early December that its dollar reserves have been depleted by some $120 million.  However,  in a statement released over the weekend, the central bank said it had dollar reserves of $7.3 billion.

The central bank statement also contended that the dollar was floating already because since Dec.12, 2013, the bank has not had to intervene to keep the dollar within the limits that have been established.

However, it said it reserved the right to intervene in the money exchange market to prevent what it called violent fluctuations.

The starting rate for today is 530 colons to sell dollars and 542 to buy them. However, these numbers were established before the central bank announcement Saturday.

2. Constitutional court seems to stray into legislating in key opinions
An A.M. Costa Rica editorial

Some expats are surprised that the constitutional court could find the corporate tax law unconstitutional yet still encourage collection through the end of this year.

This is just another example of the magistrates in the Corte Suprema de Justicia legislating. The court also found that a constitutional prohibition against appointing clergy as government ministers does not include individuals who are not Catholic.

Expats need to remember that magistrates are political appointees. When the court was deciding the fate of Melvin Jiménez, the minister of the Presidencia, the central government was considering the national budget, which includes money for the judiciary.

Judicial activism goes back much further than that. Óscar Arias Sánchez received the right for a second term, thanks to a favorable judicial opinion. The 2003 ruling by the Sala IV was the second attempt to overturn the 1969 constitutional prohibition. Basically the court found the constitution to be unconstitutional in much the same way it did to allow Jiménez, a Lutheran bishop, to keep his government job.

But the court went further in the Arias case. Out of thin air it ruled that presidents must wait four years before seeking re-election.

The activism continues with the decision that the annual tax on mercantile companies is not constitutional. The legislature, the court found, failed to publish significant changes to the measure before it was passed.

That is an allegation that can be checked easily, a slam-dunk in other words. There was no reason for the Sala IV magistrates to wait nearly a year before announcing the decision. Suspicious minds might think that the magistrates did so in order to give the government a slug of money even if the law was unconstitutional.

The decision said operators of corporations must pay the tax, nearly $400 for active corporations, for 2015. And there was no suggestion that the government should give back the money collected with an unconstitutional tax.

Some lawyers were quick to challenge that position in another appeal.

The finance ministry noted that 95 percent of the money collected from the tax goes to the security ministry to improve law enforcement, as if that justified an unconstitutional tax.

Expats might find refreshing a constitutional court that decides legal issues based on jurisprudence instead of the political winds.

3. Plunge in fuel prices hold down inflation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thanks to a decrease in the price of gasoline, the cost of living in January rose just 0.04 percent.

The figure comes from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos that surveys prices of  292 goods and services.

The steep decline in motor fuel masked the fact that the actual increase in the cost of living was greater.

Some 59 percent of the goods and services surveyed showed increases, the institute said.

By comparison, the inflation rate for 2014 was 5.13 percent. The rate from February 2014 to last month is 4.39 percent, said the institute.

4. Public Sector Wage Increase Agreement

Starting next month, public employees in Costa Rica will receive a salary increase ranging from 1.08 to 1.60 percent depending on profession.

The percentages were set at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday after six hours of negotiations between government representatives and union leaders.

The unions – Rerum Novarum, Central Juanito Mora, the National Confederation of Workers, the Costa Rican Confederation of Democratic Workers and the Costa Rican Workers Movement –accepted the government’s proposal and signed an agreement.

However, leaders of the National Association of Educators (ANDE), the High School Teachers’ Association and Costa Rica’s Social Security System Workers Union left the negotiations earlier in the afternoon, citing a disagreement with the proposed figures. Those groups had requested an increase of at least 2.3 percent.

The hike mostly will benefit 250,000 unskilled employees earning minimum wages, who will receive a 1.6 percent increase.

Negotiators agreed on 0.94 percent of the base salary for professional workers plus 0.14 that was pending from negotiations during the previous quarter.

Union leaders who rejected the approved raises publicly called the government’s figure “vulgar.”

“It is extremely shameful to hold negotiations under these terms with a government that had always voiced an intention of making social change,” said a visibly upset ANDE President Gilberto Cascante, who added that the increase “will not have any effect on educators’ pockets.”

He also promised to explore the option of filing an international complaint with the International Labour Organization.

“We aren’t ruling out protests, if needed,” Cascante said.

5. Coke CR Is Considering Expanding

President Luis Guillermo Solís and Muhtar Kent, CEO of U.S. soft-drink giant Coca-Cola, met at Casa Presidencial Wednesday morning to discuss the company’s expansion here and an initiative to incorporate more diverse producers into the company’s supply chain.

Foreign Trade Minister Alexander Mora told reporters after the meeting that the company would expand a citrus juice facility in Costa Rica, and that talks would start next week to start to incorporate small producers and women producers in Guanacaste or the Northern Zone into Coke’s global supply chain at a “fair” price.

Mora noted that discussions also took place about adding Costa Rican coffee to the company’s offerings, such as Café Blak.

Coca-Cola employs more than 2,000 people in Costa Rica. Despite Coca-Cola’s decision to lay off between 1,600 and 1,800 people in the United States and internationally in January, Mora said the company is looking to grow its operations here.

Besides the company’s eponymous soda, Coca-Cola also produces Fresca, Minute Maid, Jugos del Valle and Odawalla, among others.

The trade minister added that a possible visit to the Atlanta headquarters of the soft drink giant is in the works for Solís.

6. Incesa Announces Closing earthenware manufacturing plant in Costa Rica

The company Incesa announced Thursday the closing of its manufacturing plant in Costa Rica, for transfer to Guatemala and Nicaragua.

The firm, owned by the Colombian Corona , based its decision on that high production costs prevent the continued manufacture of sanitary ware in the country, he formed Ricardo Pineda, president of Incesa, in a press release.

"Costa Rica's team has done a great job looking to improve their competitiveness. Unfortunately, such an intensive process in labor and energy as is the manufacture of sanitary ware, is very difficult to offset the high costs of production in the country, "said Pineda.

The decision will mean laying off 150 people in the area of manufacturing, process, place gradually, in the first half of the year.

The company matendrá in Costa Rica a staff of 170 people in the area of research and development, factory Taps Chroma, sales, distribution, general management and commercial and administrative structure.

Incesa was founded in 1957 and has a production capacity of more than one million pieces per year. To maintain your factories strengthen Nicaragua and Guatemala.

7. 16 more suspects reported being investigated in case of Ruta 1856
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors say there are 16 more suspects in the investigation of irregularities in the construction of Ruta 1856.  This is the road built along the Río San Juan at the Nicaraguan border during the Laura Chinchilla administration.

The roadway also is called the Carretera Juan Rafael Mora Porras after the president who led the country to take up arms against the U.S. filibusterer William Walker in 1856 and 1857.

The revelation Tuesday by prosecutors brings the total of suspects to 42. They include  public employees and contractors.

The new batch are contractors, said the Poder Judicial. They are accused of double billing for machinery. There might even have been billing for work by machinery that did not exist.

The investigation has been going on since November 2012.
Investigators have exercised 55 search warrants, accessed 12 bank accounts, accessed two tax files and conducted 125 interviews, the Poder Judicial said.

The public employees are accused of  failing to supervise the work that was taking place and colluding with contractors  to obtain money that was not earned.

The contractors are reported to have done poor work. In some cases shipping containers or tree trunks were used as bridges. Contractors also are accused of exceeding plans to chop down a number of trees for sale.

Eventually the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes took over the work. The project is considered an example of how not to do a public work.

The road was a rush job in the face of territorial invasions by Nicaragua.

Brian, Lita, the Late Hugo IV, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, Chico II and Chica II

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