The Government Looses Control of the Legislative Agenda and

ISSUE #560: May 3 - 9, 2015


The Government Looses Control of the Legislative Agenda and Priorties

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 /


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: no inquiries.

Rentals: two rental inquiries.​



Unit #110: $215,000 / See Unit

Unit #114: $235,000 / See Unit

Unit #116: $214,000 / See Unit

Site Plan



UNIT #110
FOR SALE $215,000

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

Beautiful end-unit bungalow (one floor) town home (part of 4 homes) situate at the far quiet end of Residencias Los Jardines, steps from the main pool. It includes one designated parking spot and one storage unit. The home is 120 square meters (approximately 1,300 square feet) with two bedrooms (master has king size bed and guest has queen size bed), two full bathrooms (one being an ensuite), a large open concept kitchen, living room, dining room, granite breakfast bar with stools and features vaulted ceilings and lots of windows. The home has a large covered terrace overlooking the gardens. Custom made wood blinds cover all windows throughout. Ceiling fans in bedrooms, living room and terrace.


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: yes, we get a sprinkle now and again but certainly noting substantial or regular.

Another week and another rental at Paradisus. This was a difficult one since the client wanted it furnished and I had 6 days in which to do it. As is normal in CR, every thing which could go wrong, did... all week long and including everything... It was one of the worst weeks I can remember... incomplete shipments, car problems, computer problems, accident (#6--again I was stopped, this is the third accident when I was absolutely stopped), contract in Spanish with changes required... 4 trips to get meds from the CAJA (normally one trip is required)... going to Paradisus early one morning, traffic was backed up for a long ways. When I passed the toll both, there were 4 accidents... the last one involved 6 cars...

At Los Jardines: As the garden looks worse than ever, and deferred mtnc. becomes obvious, even some of the diehard owners at Los Jardines are beginning to admit they were wrong. After three years, of disasterous management, what was going to happen, is now becoming evident and obvious... it will take someone with a strong will and tenacity to bring it back... but that will be another story which hasn't yet started.


News Items of the Week


1 and 2 Government chaos: Solis lost his support from within his party and within his coalition. A coup of opposition parties banded together to take control of the legislature, the legislative agenda and priority setting... Solis is an observer... he's been largely sidelined and will spend the next while ribbon cutting and presiding at festivals... and what the opposition parties did was to put all the tax initiatives behind most other legislation... they are not likely to ever reach a vote... and of course, they opposition will use their muscle to put themselves in a better position for the next election.

3. I don't know whether this bill will be affected by the recent internal coup.

4. This was a screw-up of the first magnitude. We'll see what happens.

5. Inflation Rate... keeps dropping (officially) but in reality prices keep rising. A well traveled person living at Los Jardines who knows Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the US says CR prices are equal to or greater than Paris and New York and definitely higher than any of the other places he's traveled this past year.

6. Cost of Road Increases... CR saw free money (Chinese), accepted it even though strings are attached, no specifications are included, the contract is in Mandarin, no engineering specs have been either provided or developed...and now CR wants to add details to it and is finding out that those items weren't included... like upgrade and / or new bridges, access roads, etc... this has all the trappings of another government mess.

1. Government Opposition Coup!!

Five days it took the opposition to the agreement that united six political parties and allowed them to take control of the Board of the Legislative Assembly public.

With this document, the opposition bloc makes clear that avoid committing to draft legislation and, rather, seek to define, on the way, what is the way to solve needs of legislation.

According to the Chairman of the Board, the Social Christian Rafael Ortiz, it is a framework of five goals that will facilitate progress in the Assembly Government.

The first agreed point concerns job creation; the second to the pursuit of efficiency in Congress; the third, improving the quality of life of Costa Ricans; the fourth deals with the rationalization of public expenditure and the fifth focuses on state modernization.

For the head of the fraction of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), Johnny Lewis, the bloc needed first to agree on the major national problems, then see how you can solve each.

Members recognized that, for each topic, there may be more than two proposed bills and that the work of synthesizing the proposals yet to begin.

"This is to set a direction, with clear objectives. In Congress you can be found more than 1,000 projects; but with a north course not lost, "said Mario Redondo, Christian Democratic Alliance.

Given this position, the head of the bench of the Citizen Action Party (PAC), Marco Redondo asked the opposition bloc a commitment to "ethical agenda", which includes the closing plenary of the cafe, limit spending on food, vehicles and travel.

General Plan. In order to use, opponents speak to boost infrastructure plans in general education reforms, simplification of procedures and the promotion of renewable energy.

To streamline the Congress Directory promise to eliminate him administrative functions, reduce travel expenses and deputies, as well as putting limits voting to projects.

In their paper, the opposition talks about improving the articulation of state social help, refusing to discuss and approve new taxes and fiscal rules set you to the Executive.

Finally, in terms of reform, the block talks about efforts to "improve" accountability.

All this, without establishing which initiatives will be processed on each of these issues.

Christian Gonzalo Ramirez of Costa Rican Renovation and Fabricio Alvarado, National Restoration, argued that issues as partisan positions on IVF and gay marriage were off the agenda, since the evangelical fractions preferred "put above the interests of the country "not partisan agendas.

2. President's leadership being questioned by lawmakers and pundits
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The executive branch is facing more criticism now that Luis Guillermo Solís has been in office for a year.

Opposition Lawmakers reviewed his state of the nation speech this week and concluded that the president has failed to carry out promises that he made to reduce unemployment and boost the economy.

Business leaders are saying the same thing, and one commercial news source, Central American Data, said that the inability of the Solis administration to chart a clear course for the country and the economy is worrying entrepreneurs whose economic prospects are deteriorating rapidly. It blamed notorious political inexperience.

The takeover of the legislature by an opposition coalition is not what Solís wanted. His administration is trying to pass a number of tax bills, and that was one of the reasons that a solid opposition front coalesced May 1. The current leadership vows that there will be no new taxes even as the government moves deeper and deeper into deficit.

The same votes that elected an opposition leadership can defeat any bill.

The legislative members of the Partido Liberación Nacional are among the most vocal.

Silvia Sánchez Venegas told her colleagues this week that Solís in his speech took credit for attracting 39 new firms to Costa Rica and that these generated 10,200 more jobs. However, the unemployment figure in December was 9.7 percent, one point higher than the same time in the previous year, said the lawmaker.

The lawmaker blamed a lack of clarity of a strategy of production.

Karla Prendas Matarrita of the same party said the president's first year was a step backwards.

Many business operators have been waiting for the president's tax package. The uncertainty among the business sector has been obvious for the last four months while the Ministerio de Hacienda issued drafts of  proposed tax legislation.

The uncertainty seems to reduce investments and hiring, business leaders have noted.

In addition, exporters have been facing an artificially low exchange rate between the colon and the U.S. dollar. Many exporters are paid in dollars but must pay their own bills in colons. The administration's  plan appears to be to hold down the value of the dollar to encourage exports and to prevent an exchange rate spike that would affect repayment of the country's growing debt.

3. New bill would make tax-free status more uniform
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A proposed law now in the legislature would make fundamental changes to the way Costa Rica provides exoneration from taxes for certain activities and agencies.

The measure would eliminate 138 laws and 60 articles of other laws. The measure continues special treatment to alternative energies and transportation.

Many of the laws that would be voided are specific to one municipality, agency or entity. The new draft exonerates these in general terms.

The proposed law continues to exonerate from import taxes vehicles used as taxis up to 60 percent of their value. Vehicles used for the handicapped are free of 100 percent of taxes, as are bicycles. Tourism microbuses also are exonerated.

The draft also eliminated the import duties and sales taxes for equipment used to create alternative energy from the wind and sun.

Also exonerated are non-profit foundations that are dedicated to the collection and treatment of trash, to conservation of natural resources, the environment in general, and public health. The break extends to municipal taxes and import duties.

The measure, of course, eliminates taxes for government agencies and diplomats. Religious groups appear to be included, but the Salvation Army is listed by name.

Medicines and medical equipment also would continue to be exonerated.

Organic farmers would not have to pay import duties on a two-ton or greater truck, and there are other tax breaks for agricultural equipment, parts and supplies. There are tax breaks for some tourism activities.

The measure has been consigned to committee, and there certainly will be a lot of lobbying for special tax breaks. The final draft, if there is one, is likely to be very different from the one that was presented.

The bill may apply taxes to items and organizations that now enjoy tax-free status. But that is not obvious from the draft.

The ministry also has presented a bill to lump all government payments into one system and a measure to reduce tax fraud.

4. Report sought by Monday on problems with the arts festival
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When the issue is the shortcomings of the Festival Internacional de las Artes the buck does not stop at the president's desk.

The president, Luis Guillermo Solís issued a directive, he said Tuesday, for a report from the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud by next Monday.

Casa Presidencial noted that the festival had been characterized by many canceled or reprogramed activities, low attendance by the public and a series of developments that impeded the development of the event.

The report of the festival is to come from the minister,  Elizabeth Fonseca, the vice ministers Alfredo Chavarría and Luis Carlos Amador as well as the director of the Centro de Producción Artística y Cultural, Inti Picado.

The festival ended Sunday, and one major problem was the rejection by the Contraloría General de la República of a contract for sound and lights. That pretty well doomed concerts and performances outside San José Centro.

But there was another problem. The festival was designed for the first time to bring culture to the people. The events were supposed to take place in four cantons, Desamparados, Aserrí, Acosta and Alajuelita. In past years, the festival was in Parque la Sabana. So the logistics were complex.

Bands were well received when they ended up performing in the Central de la Cultura, the ministry facility on Avenida 7.

Although the audience was thin April 27, by the next day and following evenings the young crowd was noisy and entertained.

Solís promised to make the autopsy report on the festival public. The government and private sources invested about $1.4 million in the festival.

5. Inflation Rate Drops

Low inflation in the country is another factor pressing the reduction in interest rates offered by financial intermediaries to the public.

According to published yesterday by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), the accumulated inflation between May 2014 and April 2015 was 1.81%, the lowest value recorded in a series of 38 years.

Expected inflation also fell. It rose from 5.9% at the beginning of the year, 5% in April.

If inflation expectations and do not decrease the nominal rates (those offered by securities), savers estimate that the money raised will reach them to buy more, which means an increase in real rates.

That is why low inflation allows reductions in nominal interest rates to maintain the stable real.

Moreover, this reduction in inflation the real rate of interest of Costa Rica becomes more attractive compared to that of other countries, so local yields have to comply with those abroad, to avoid attracting speculative capital.

The economist Roxana Morales, coordinator of the Observatory of the Economic and Social Situation of the National University, explained that local rates must be lowered to prevent speculative capital inflows.

Low inflation indicators. (William Sanchez)

"The international interest rates are quite low and if we fail to cut rates in the domestic market, capital inflows would be promoted and thus the exchange rate (exchange rate appreciation) would be affected, with the consequent negative effect on the export sector, "explained the expert.

Economist Alberto Franco explained that it is normal that there is a lag between movements in interest rates made by the Central Bank and when these changes are transmitted to the rest of the financial system.

He added that, according to studies of the Central Bank, this gap is around 11 months.

Franco added that there are some market rates have fallen, although no savings.

The basic interest rate, which reflects yields between five and seven months, down only 0.10 points this year, from 7.20% to 7.10%.

Do you open new spaces? Economists disagree on whether the small increase that showed the consumer price index in April, will open new spaces for the central bank to lower further its policy rate and increase its buying program to boost reserves the dollar and thus alleviate the situation of the export sector.

The proposal to increase the program reservation was made by the president of the Central Bank Eduardo Lizano.

To the economist Roxana Morales, low inflation does open spaces for both measures, but the central bank president Rodrigo Bolaños does not think so.

"Low inflation and reduced inflation pressures in the short term allow the BCCR (Central Bank of Costa Rica) reduce the monetary policy rate, in order to influence interest rates in the financial system," Morales said.

Bolaños, meanwhile, refuses to implement measures based on the outcome of the consumer price index.

To the economist, the current decline in the consumer price index reflects the timely reduction of some products and is not a reduction in core inflation (the medium term, which excludes seasonal factors).

On strengthening the reserve purchase program, Bolanos said he would agree only if the cost is covered by the national budget and not from the Central Bank. This institution yesterday issued a statement reiterating its commitment to the inflation range between 4% and 6% this year.

6. Cost of Road Widening from Limon to San Jose Likely to Increase

Barely two months after Costa Rica’s legislature approved a long-awaited loan for expanding the highway between the capital and the Caribbean coast, the project’s price tag is poised to rise.

On Wednesday, a representative of China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC), the Chinese contractor chosen to carry out the project, told lawmakers that the cost of expanding Route 32 could increase because of additional work requested by the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT).

Company’s representative Teresa Wu said the cost of that work was not included in the original contract.

The $485 million project will expand from two to four lanes a 107-kilometer stretch of the highway, which connects San José to Limón. It’s expected to take 42 months to complete.

Lawmakers in February passed a bill authorizing a $395 million loan from the Chinese government to fund 85 percent of the project’s total cost. The loan stipulates that the project be developed entirely by CHEC using only Chinese workers.

The Costa Rican government will contribute the remaining $70 million for the road — or possibly more if costs go up. The legislature could also be forced to approve a supplemental loan to make up the difference.

MOPT officials want new bridges built along the route to comply with recent seismic technology parameters, and they want existing bridges along the road retrofitted. They also want CHEC to increase the width of both the road and shoulder.

Wu and CHEC representative Zhou Jingxiog spoke before lawmakers who sit on the special Committee on Limón Affairs. At a meeting also attended by Public Works and Transport Minister Carlos Segnini Villalobos, Wu said the company is still studying MOPT’s requests in order to estimate costs.

Segnini said negotiations with the Chinese contractor are still in progress.

“CHEC is still evaluating our requests. At this point they have not included any of them in the project and therefore they have yet to report what they would consider additional work and which requests would represent higher costs,” Segnini told legislators.

Before the Legislative Assembly approved the project in February, various professional and business groups warned that changes to the project would be needed and that those changes would inflate the price tag. Among the critics were the University of Costa Rica’s National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models, the National Association of Engineers and Architects and business chambers gathered under the name “Grupo Consenso.”

These groups largely oppose the conditions under which the project was granted to the Chinese company. On various occasions, critics warned that approving a project without a draft proposal was a serious risk and that it was impossible to estimate the final cost of a project with no blueprints or even a description of the work involved.

The majority of lawmakers, nonetheless, ignored the warnings and passed a bill authorizing the loan. In February Segnini sent lawmakers a letter saying “the honor that’s characteristic of Chinese culture is a guarantee that project costs will not change.”

After the Limón Affairs Committee’s session Thursday, Broad Front legislator Gerardo Vargas Varela said he and his colleagues now had more questions than answers on the issue.

“It is not yet clear if costs will increase. It is unclear when work will begin. The only clear situation here is that there are serious problems,” Vargas said.

Social Christian Unity Party legislator Luis Vásquez Castro said that one of the clauses in the government’s contract with CHEC states that if changes are required, the parts should renegotiate project costs. Therefore, he said, “it is possible that costs may increase significantly.”

According to Transport Minister Segnini, once negotiations over cost are concluded, CHEC will have eight months to draft the project’s plans.

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

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