1. Monopolies... CR loves them... restrictive tradeâ€‹ practises... by the way... what is a "political scientist"--the legislation conveniently avoids this... the whole idea is BS!!!!!!! but let's see what happens...
2. Tax Policies and Solis' agenda: The president now regains the agenda for the next several months... but many of the items have been there since he was elected... I don't expect much to happen really...
3. CR Exports are up... especially items from the free trade zones... these areas seem to be growing and more and more jobs seem to be being created...
4. USA paying for holding / processing would be immigrants: I have mixed feelings about this... this will be a mess, money spent, nothing gained and a 6 mo. delay doesn't seem sufficient to accomplished the stated objectives... however questionable or well intentioned they are.
5. BCCR and exchange rates: This seems a reversal of stated policy... The government is now going to keep the colon from depreciating further... as long as it can. Because CR is not able to refinance it debt as easily as it expected and probably due to non-tax collection / laws passed to sufficiently warm rating agencies, CR will have to pay more, and perhaps because direct foreign investment is not coming it at the rate expected, the colon has depreciated against the dollar. It now stands about 2 1/2% lower than 6 mo. ago...
1. Political scientists try to corner the job market
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Another group is trying to corner its labor market.
A legislative committee just voted out a proposal to create a colegio for political scientists. Although the word is the same in Spanish, a professional colegio is not a secondary school. In Latin American countries it is an organization that encompasses certain white-collar work.
Here the lawyers have a colegio, and so do the physicians, surgeons, nurses and even journalists. So do many other job categories. These colegios are created by law and given certain responsibilities.
One attribute sometimes is that to practice the type of work an individual must belong to the colegio. The Colegio de Periodistas de Costa Rica enforced such a requirement until an expat newsman challenged the criminal sanctions before the Interamerican Court of Human Rights and won in 1985.
Still, the proposed law for a political scientist colegio, No. 19.638, also contains a criminal sanction for those who exercise the work without belonging to the colegio, which also covers individuals in international relations.
The bill also permits contracting a person for political science reasons who is not a colegio member for a short period.
In order to belong to the colegio, an applicant must have a bachelor’s or licenciatura from a Costa Rica higher education institution specifically in political science.
Also accepted are those whose foreign degrees are accepted by the Consejo Nacional de Rectores.
In the Middle Ages, five professions were recognized: Law, medicine, engineering, education and religion. Since then, the urge to be called a professional has mushroomed, but Latin America is a place where membership is obligatory for some job categories.
The proposed law also would allow the political science colegio to fix fees of its members. That is a hot-button issue now because the Colegio de Médicos y Cirujanos, has just set some mandatory fees for its members that some consider disproportional.
The proposed law stops short of identifying exactly what is a political scientist or someone involved in international relations. A good guess certainly would include lobbyists, some staffers at the legislature and others in government agencies.
However, the American Political Science Association has a long list of job titles that it considers appropriate for political science graduates. They range from CIA analyst to Web content editor.
Also lacking in the proposed bill is a description of the professional ethics, although the measure would set up an ethics committee.
The proposed law won approval from the legislature’s Comisión Permanente Especial de Relaciones Internacionales y Comercio Exterior.
The basic definition of a profession is one that has a defined body of knowledge that requires special education to practice. The professional association, or colegio in this case, is responsible for enforcing standards and punishing deviations from them. The sociological definition is much tighter than the definition used in common speech, such as calling an athlete a professional.
2. Executive branch lays groundwork for action on tax bills
By the A.M. Costs Rica staff
The executive branch has designated 75 proposed laws to the legislature for possible action during August when the president sets the agenda.
Many are bills that have been in the legislative hopper for long periods. Casa Presidencial said that among the bills those addressing taxes have a priority.
One is the bill against tax fraud. Others are a bill that would establish a value-added tax and one that increases the tax rate on income.
But there also is a bill authorizing telecommuting for government workers and some that would authorize the building of new hospitals in Cartago, Turrialba and Golfito.
The tax bills have been stuck in committee for nearly the entire time that Luis Guillermo Solís has been in office.
The Costa Rica Constitution authorizes the legislature to meet from May 1 to July 31 and from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. At other times the president has the power to call the lawmakers into session. Originally this was for emergencies, but in modern times, lawmaker meet almost all year round with some of the agendas in the hands of Casa Presidencial.
3. Costa Rica exports up 7 percent in 2016
Costa Rica’s export sector appears to be on the rebound after several years of decline, according to a report released Tuesday by Costa Rica’s Foreign Trade Ministry (COMEX) and Foreign Trade Promotion Office (PROCOMER).
During the first six months of this year, the value of Costa Rican goods exported abroad totalled just over $5 billion, representing 7 percent growth compared to the same period last year.
Sales from free zone-based companies showed the highest growth at 13 percent, while all other companies reported a 2 percent increase, COMEX reported.
The positive figures represent a trend towards stabilization following sustained declines in exports since 2012, which were further aggravated by the closure of Intel’s microchip manufacturing plant in 2014.
Speaking at a news conference, Foreign Trade Minister Alexander Mora noted that the country had finally overcome the so-called “Intel effect,” as ministry officials forecasted it would this year.
“In 2014, we predicted that the Intel effect would be over by 2016. Now we are seeing it, and we expect the second half of the year to be even better,” Mora said.
The minister said it was reassuring to see the country doing well “at a time when the whole region is facing difficulties.”
According to the report, Costa Rica’s export growth during the first quarter of this year outperformed big Latin American economies including Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. PROCOMER General Manager Pedro Beirute said the growth has been largely the result of diversification of both products and markets.
Agricultural exports made up the largest share, 29 percent, of total value during the first half of this year, followed by medical devices at 24 percent.
Medical devices have become an increasingly important part of Costa Rica’s export sector. Two years ago, in the first half of 2014, medical device exports made up 17 percent of total exports compared to 24 percent this year.
Processed food made up 16 percent of total exports during the first half of this year, followed by electrical and electronic devices at 6 percent, and chemical and pharmaceutical products at 5 percent.
Livestock and fishing exports fell by 18 percent. Beirute said the drop was a direct result of low prices for tilapia and beef on international markets and decreasing demand from emerging countries. Sales of Costa Rican tilapia faced strong competition, mostly from China, while the U.S. has increased beef production, lowering demand for Costa Rican beef.
Cumulative sales in the first half of this year represent 47 percent of the total 2016 export target set by COMEX.
4. Costa Rica to host Central Americans seeking asylum in US
The governments of the United States and Costa Rica announced Tuesday that Costa Rica would begin hosting Central American refugees applying for asylum in the United States and other countries as part of a protection transfer arrangement with the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration.
As many as 200 refugees at a time from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — the so-called Northern Triangle — will be allowed to stay in Costa Rica for up to six months while they are processed for potential asylum in the U.S. or elsewhere, UNHCR chief in Costa Rica Carlos Maldonado told reporters during a news conference at Casa Presidencial in San José on Tuesday. The U.S. State Department announced the agreement in a news release.
Working with the UNHCR and the IOM, the United States will pre-screen “vulnerable applicants” in the region seeking asylum. Applicants in need of immediate protection can then be sent to Costa Rica for processing before traveling to the U.S. or another country.
Pre-screened refugee applicants will be housed near or in San José while they are processed and will receive English classes and information about their destination. All costs associated with the program will be covered by IOM and UNHCR.
Just two weeks ago, the U.S. State Department’s top official on refugee and immigration matters, Anne Richard, told The Tico Times that the Central American refugee program was “still on the drawing board.” The agreement with Costa Rica to house vulnerable applicants is a breakthrough on one of the key issues holding up the program.
One outstanding question is whether six months will be enough time for Central American refugees to be processed for travel to the U.S. Richard said processing refugees for resettlement in the U.S. takes on average 18 to 24 months worldwide.
News of the agreement comes a day before the president of El Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, arrives in Costa Rica to meet with President Luis Guillermo Solís. Asylum applications from El Salvador make up nearly half of the some 1,500 applications Costa Rica has received so far this year.
The U.S. also announced Tuesday an expansion of a program that allows Central American minors to apply for protection in the U.S. from their home countries. The program, which began in December 2014, allows a parent who is legally in the U.S. to request refugee status for their child living in a Northern Triangle country so that the child can avoid the dangerous journey north alone or with smugglers.
Under the newly-announced expansion, the following categories of people can also be considered for the program when accompanied by a qualifying child: adult children of legal U.S. residents; a biological parent of a qualifying child if the parent is still living in a Northern Triangle country; caregivers of a qualifying child who are relatives of the child’s legal U.S.-resident parents.
Hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans have fled gang violence and organized crime in their home countries in recent years. Most seek refuge in the U.S. but many have also fled to Costa Rica. The Northern Triangle countries have some of the world’s highest homicide rates and most pervasive gang presence.
According to figures from UNHCR, nearly 150,000 Central Americans are expected to seek asylum in 2016.
The agreement announced Tuesday does not apply to African, Asian and Haitian migrants, who have been traveling through Central America in increasing numbers this year to reach the U.S.
5. BCCR chooses to lose reserves to prevent further rise in dollar
Central Bank estimates the country will get less foreign loans
BCCR chooses to lose reserves to prevent further rise in dollar
Faced with the least amount of foreign currency the country will receive foreign loans, the central bank chose lower dollar reserves and thus avoid further pressure on the price of the currency increases.
This is clear from reading several economists revising the macroeconomic program for this and next year the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR) released yesterday. The first program was released in January.
In the review, the company held 4.2% estimated production growth this year, said the inflation target at 3% and cut the fiscal deficit planned.
Less funding. Economist Luis Mesalles explained that the review published yesterday, the Central expects this year's net international reserves (resources that the country has to face external difficulties) will fall just over $ 300 million in 2016, and an amount equal in 2017 in relation to the previous year.
That, Mesalles, is a major change from the program announced in January, which meant that reserves would increase $ 738 million in 2016 and $ 381 million in 2017.
The reason why reservations are now lower compared to what was expected in January, is that the Bank lowered earnings forecasts of foreign currency loans.
In January, the authority assumed that the government was getting $ 1,000 million in debt by 2016. Now that supposed not enter. By 2017, in January the company estimated that private foreign savings would fall by $ 1.908 million and $ 1.296 billion now projected, detailed Mesalles.
"What that means is that there will be more pressure on the exchange rate in these two years, for which the Central will use its reserves to contain the pressure of devaluation," he said.
Mesalles coincided with Max Alberto Soto, director of the Institute for Research in Economics (ICSI) at the University of Costa Rica.
"The macroeconomic program started from a premise that was not given; It was a government funding outside of the fiscal deficit by at least $ 1,000 more than you really going to give millions; and then that all accounts of the balance of payments (...) generates a shortfall of approximately $ 300 million; then there are two options: one is via fix exchange rates, letting the exchange rate rise or losing reserves. It is seen that the Central Bank is opting for the second, "he said.
Economist José Luis Arce considered that the Central changed its overly optimistic on access to external financing, which showed in the January program evaluation, and for the first time starts talking about squeezing the private sector product in the fiscal deficit.
"What is strange is that despite this important in assessing the situation change, the growth projection is maintained, even in a scenario where the dynamism of domestic demand displays it lower," said Arce.
The decline in reserves helps maintain exchange rate stability; however, the entity also laments the growth of dollarization of credit.
"To better control the issue of credit in dollars, warns on prudential measures that will be taking soon the Conassif (National Council for Financial System Supervision)", drew attention Vidal Villalobos, manager of Economic Studies of Prival Bank.
Bank authorities shall not refer to this document until next Wednesday.