1. Corporate Tax: A country crying out for tax money cannot agree to pass a simple revision to an existing law... The US Congress is not unique... unfortunately...
2. Many Political Parties: This does not bode well for cooperation and decision making.
3. Eduardo Li: Yes, the fair haired Tico is guilty... no surprise here.
4. New Tax Brackets: Interesting only to see the level of taxation and that there has actually been deflation in CR this past year.
5. "La Trocha" supposedly the government is about ready to prosecute the corruption on this "emergency" road building disaster which defied all CR supposedly environmental consciousness... it is so complex and involves so many players that nothing is likely to really happen... a little pot stirring, a few headlines, and then oblivion.
6. Clinica Biblica -Santa Ana: Construction has started on this. Below is a description of what is to become. Right now, we put up with the construction process...dump trucks, traffic delays, road changes, etc...
1. Lawmakers decline to put corporate tax on fast track
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Lawmakers defeated a proposal to give speedy consideration to a tax on corporations when 25 of the 41 present voted against the idea.
The effort to put the tax proposal on a fast track came from Frente Amplio. The minister of Seguridad Pública, Gustavo Mata, said he would quit if the tax was not approved in 30 days.
One of the lawmakers, Carlos Hernández, summed up the prevailing opinion when he said in a release after the vote that the legislature should not run irresponsibly to approve a bill that would not have an effect for 12 months or more because this would not address the current crisis.
The current crisis is the wave of shootings and murders that have taken place in Limón in the last week.
The security ministry moved to put 200 more officers in the area, and they began making arrests. Then officials reported that 37 persons had been detained in that area for drug crimes since the first of the year.
The shootings are generally linked to drug gangs fighting for territory. But some of the victims were bystanders. A man who was presumed to be one of two targets in a beach shooting Sunday was reported to have vanished from Hospital Tony Facio.
Meanwhile, Bernardita Marín, the vice minister for administration for the security ministry said in a press conference that there are 210 open spots in the police force and recruitment is under way. She said that Mata would hire 1,000 more police officers if the corporate tax were to pass. The ministry gets most of the proceeds.
She also was seeking to explain revelations that the ministry only expended 90 percent of its budget last year. She said the ministry spent 209 billion colons in 2015, about $385 million.
The ministry also announced that a new and free tip line has gone into effect. The number especially for Limón is 800-LIMONFP.
Administrators of the Judicial Investigating Organization have been silent about resources. The judicial agents do most of the investigations.
The corporation tax was declared unconstitutional in January 2015 because of procedural faults. The bill is in committee where members seem to be in no hurry to bring it to the legislative floor.
2. Ticos have many options to choose next president
So far there are 28 parties registered at the national and provincial levels. Daniela Abarca | CRH The government of Luis Guillermo Solis and entered the final straight. Just missing 16 months for Costa Ricans go back to the polls to elect the next president.
The electoral picture is still unclear, but what I can confirm is that the struggle for the presidential seat will be very divided.
According to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, currently there are 16 parties registered at the national level and 12 at provincial level.
And they may be: at least 17 parties are pending registration and have already submitted the charter party.
The Director of the Electoral Register, Hector Fernandez says that the number of registered parties is increasing. And may be more than 45.
"The number of matches is much higher than in recent years and that's less than 2 years for elections. But one thing is to register and another involving "said Hector Fernandez.
The official says that differences in the parties and the facilities given the Constitutional Court, cause many potential candidates form their own party.
Political scientist Gustavo Araya says that Costa Ricans have many options to choose the next president.
"It was bipartisanship back in history. They are not given the conditions throughout the fractionation and does not have to be different in the next election. In addition to registered parties, candidates there are at least 12 more within the Legislature , "said the political scientist.
The expert says that voter apathy and abstention, give much chance any candidate is elected as president.
3. Eduardo Li pleads guilty in FIFA fraud case
A year and a half after his arrest on charges of corruption as part of the FIFA fraud case, Eduardo Li pleaded guilty Friday to three charges in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
The former president of the Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) admitted guilt on three charges relating to corruption and conspiracy, according to AFP. Li told a judge Friday morning that he had accepted more than $500,000 in bribes from various companies in exchange for television rights to Costa Rican football games leading up to the 2022 World Cup, the AFP reported.
Li faced more than a dozen charges stemming from a pair of 2015 indictments against him, in which U.S. prosecutors said Li used his position as the head of Costa Rican football and a FIFA executive to receive illegal kickbacks when granting business deals. He was also accused of money laundering and wire fraud.
The Costa Rican has been under house arrest in New York since February after he was extradited from Switzerland, where he was originally detained alongside other FIFA officials in May 2015. Li is the 17th of 24 FIFA representatives to plead guilty to corruption charges in the U.S.
Each one of Li’s three charges carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to AFP.
Last month, U.S. prosecutors announced that FIFA defendants who plead guilty now would receive reduced sentences.
A FEDEFUTBOL spokesperson declined comment Friday afternoon, saying, “It’s a matter that has to do specifically with Eduardo Li and we are keeping ourselves out of it.”
4. New tax brackets for the new tax year
New brackets for calculating income tax for the next twelve months were implemented on Oct. 1, following their publication in the official newspaper La Gaceta.
As of Oct. 1, workers whose gross monthly income is less than ¢792,000 ($1,417) will be exempt from paying the tax. Last year that figure was ¢787,000 ($1,408).
Those earning a monthly income between ¢792,000 and ¢1,188,000 ($2,126) will be charged 10 percent.
People with a monthly income above ¢1,188,000 will pay 15 percent on the amount over that figure.
The Finance Ministry calculates yearly adjustments using variations of the consumer price index recorded in the twelve-month period before Oct. 1 as reported by the National Statistics and Census Institute. The variation in fiscal year 2016 was 0.6 percent, the Ministry reported.
Income for the purpose of this tax includes monthly base wages, bonuses and any extra salary perks, as well as all pensions.
Employers are responsible for withholding income tax for employees and paying the Finance Ministry no later than the 15th of each month.
5. Chief prosecutor pledges indictments in border road scandal by year end
Costa Rica’s General Prosecutor Jorge Chavarría Guzmán said he is almost ready to file charges for corruption in the failed construction of a road along the border with Nicaragua. The road cost taxpayers more than ₡25,000 million (some $45 million).
Chavarría made the comments during an appearance before the Legislative Committee on Public Income and Spending Control on Thursday afternoon. Lawmakers had called him to appear to explain the slow progress on various corruption investigations, among them the case of the controversial border route, officially known as Route 1856 but commonly known as “la trocha.”
The chief prosecutor said his office has gathered enough evidence to file criminal complaints against 48 people. “That’s why this case is moving slowly, but I guarantee we will move forward with an indictment soon, before the end of this year,” he said.
Chavarría did not mention any names but the list likely will include six people arrested shortly after the scandal became public in 2012. Among them are officials from the National Roadway Council (CONAVI) and private contractors involved in the construction of the 160-kilometer road, which was inaugurated in 2012.
President Luis Guillermo Solís promised during his presidential campaign in 2014 that, if elected, he would finish the route. CONAVI Executive Director German Valverde, however, told La Nación in September that the project will not be completed due to lack of funding.
Former president Laura Chinchilla Miranda publicly denounced in May 2012 that CONAVI officials had received bribes from private contractors and construction equipment suppliers to secure contracts for the project.
General Prosecutor Chavarría told legislators that the evidence collected by his office includes 23 volumes of documents, 350 files containing invoices and 40 boxes of documents seized during 58 raids. He said prosecutors have a list of 250 possible witnesses.
Besides the large volume of evidence to cull, Chavarría told lawmakers the case has suffered delays because some of the prosecutors who began working on the case were transferred to other offices, promoted or no longer work for the Prosecutors’ Office.
“Putting together a case like this has been a martyrdom. Those who believe that we have a modern judicial system are wrong,” Chavarría said at the hearing.
The construction of Route 1856 was President Chinchilla’s response to a conflict with Nicaragua dating from 2010 over the rights of a border territory that both countries claimed as their own. The conflict extended to a dispute over navigation rights on the San Juan River, a natural border between the two countries.
The border road was supposed to provide Costa Rican residents of the area a key transportation route; Up until la trocha was built, residents could only travel along the border by boat on the San Juan.
But Nicaraguan army officials began detaining Costa Rican nationals for allegedly invading their country. Some residents also reported that Nicaraguan soldiers entered Costa Rican territory and arrested them inside their homes, claiming they were in Nicaraguan territory.
The situation escalated when Nicaraguan soldiers and other nationalist groups set up camp on a border territory, claiming it belonged to that country. They also started dredging the river, causing damage to riverbanks on the Costa Rican side of the river.
The conflicts led to mutual accusations before the Hague-based International Court of Justice, which ruled in December 2015 that the disputed territory belongs to Costa Rica, and that Costa Rican residents have the right to navigate on the San Juan.
President Chinchilla’s administration began the construction of Route 1856 in December 2010. She granted the project to private contractors without going through a public bidding process as required by law.
At the time, she justified her decision because of the emergency situation that border residents were facing due to the actions of the Nicaraguan soldiers.
Chinchilla inaugurated the road in February 2012, despite claims from local residents that the work was far from complete.
Subsequent inspections by experts from the University of Costa Rica released in May of that year found that shoddy work on the road’s drainage systems could leave the road in danger of collapsing during the rainy season.
Those predictions turned out to be correct, and the first rains of the season washed away several stretches of the road. Various bridges collapsed.
In addition, local media investigations reported alleged kickbacks and corruption between government employees and companies hired to build the road. Reports also stated that various contractors did not have any experience in building public roads.
The scandal prompted President Chinchilla to order the removal of Public Works and Transport Minister Francisco Jiménez, CONAVI Executive Director Carlos Acosta and other public officials.
Agents from the Prosecutor’s Office and the Judicial Investigation Police raided 36 companies, government offices and homes of public officials suspected of involvement. During the raids, agents arrested various CONAVI officials and private contractors.
The Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation shortly afterwards, and started collecting evidence in hopes of proving embezzlement, influence peddling and bribery.
6. Clinica Biblica -Santa Ana
Clinica Bíblica’s new building in Pozos, Santa Ana involves an approximate investment of $19 million USD. The private clinic, bought the land since 2013 and began with the construction of the first phase in August of this year, the estimated time-frame to conclude the work is of around 18-24 months. The new building is located right at the entrance of Santa Ana, close to Forum 1.
The medical center project includes two surgery rooms, heliport, laboratory, pharmacy, clinical imaging services, 25 doctor offices, 24/7 emergency service and a parking lot for 100 cars. A second stage will include an expansion of the original building and an apartment building for elderly people with 21 units of around 35 to 50 square meters.
The administration of the apartments will be handled by an international group, and alliance that will allow Asemeco group to focus on the health services.
“There’s a strong commitment to care for the environment: for this reason the design of the new building in Santa Ana is oriented towards being carbon neutral, and towards getting the needed accreditation in this field to be consistent with our responsibility with the environment”, said Dr. Jorge Cortes, medical director of the Bíblica Hospital.
The existing building of the Clínica Bíblica in San José, is the first hospital in Latin America that complies with the Verification process and the Carbon Neutral Declaratory of its carbon footprint based on international standards (ISO 14064-1 and ISO 14064-3) and on a national level with the standard INTE 12-01-06:2011/Cor.2: 2013. given out by the Carbon Neutral Unit of Earth University.
Clínica Bíblica Santa Ana will be the third private hospital on the west area of San José, Cima Hospital has been operating since 1994 and Lindora Medical Center opened its doors in February of this year.