2. Hiring: seems like it is likely to hold steady with some increase in Heredia 's free trade zone areas. There seems to be a disconnect between what the survey says and what the government's interpretation. Buried in this and elsewhere, the CR economy is humming along around 4.5% annual growth. The colon has not taken its usual swan dive this year due to aginaldo payments.
3. Airport Expansion: somehow the planned work, which is a year late, is suppose to add capacity... looking at the work described, I am not sure I can buy the assessment but that is probably what sold the work package to the government.
4. Convention Center: this is a useless, wasteful project that someone stands to benefit... there is already convention facilities -private- next door to this and as the article points out, a dying industry where CR is not particularly well positioned to benefit... and they haven't budgeted for marketing.
5. Cooperative housing bill proposed: we are ahead of the curve a bit albeit a little different.
6. Monetary Fund: CR's debt is unsustainable -duhhhh... the country continues to hear this and to deny it... international agencies continue to downgrade with "negative" outlook but it has no effect on policy... and debt is in US dollars which continues to be strong...
1. Costa Rica ranks as one of the world's most dangerous countries for drivers
If you feel like you’re putting your life on the line every time you get behind the wheel in Costa Rica, now you’ve got some statistics to back up your anxiety.
In a recent report from Australian fleet management firm Global Positioning Specialists (GPS) that ranked the most dangerous countries for drivers, Costa Rica comes in fourth on the list. Though the country often ranks high near more enviable lists like the Happiness Index, this unwanted designation takes into account Costa Rica’s relatively bad infrastructure, among other negative factors.
The study measured three categories: road conditions, traffic fatalities, and car theft. On a scale of 1 (among the worst in the world) to 7 (among the world’s best), Costa Rica’s road quality scored a 2.8. In road traffic deaths and vehicle theft rates per 100,000 people, the country also ranked poorly.
As seen in the infographic above, Costa Rica ranked in the top 20 for all individual categories, with its worst rating coming in road quality.
A spokesman from GPS said methodology for the road quality index came from the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 where roads are also ranked by a 1-to-7 scale. In that list, Costa Rica’s roads ranked 119th out of the 141 polled countries.
Lebanon was named the most dangerous country for drivers, while Uruguay and Colombia rounded out the top three ahead of Costa Rica. The United States ranked as the 12th worst country for drivers and was noted for its high vehicular crime rate.
In November, the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) reported the lowest amount of accident-related deaths for any month in the past three years, with 20 registered traffic fatalities.
2. Private-sector employers wary of hiring during next quarter
Only two out of 10 private sector employers in Costa Rica are planning to hire more staff in the next quarter, consulting firm Manpower found. However, only 5 percent said they are considering layoffs in the next three months.
The company’s Employment Outlook Survey Q1-2017 released this week found that 72 percent of employers do not anticipate changes in their staff. The best options for job-seekers are in companies located in Heredia. Almost a quarter of companies —22 percent— in that province said they will expand their payrolls.
The figure is the best net employment outlook for the country, and also the best for Heredia since Q4-2011, Manpower reported.
Companies in Guanacaste and Alajuela followed at 16 and 14 percent as the most positive outlooks for the period. Employers in San José were fourth, followed by those in Puntarenas and Limón. Employers in Cartago, at 8 percent, were the most cautious with their hiring expectations.
The net employment outlook for the country is 12 percent, which represents three percentage points more than the outlook recorded for the current quarter. The figure however is three percentage points lower from results recorded during the first quarter of this year.
Hiring by sector
Manpower Country Manager Ana Gabriela Chaverri at a news conference said that all six industrial sectors evaluated showed positive outlooks for the next quarter.
Companies in the Communications & Transportation sector, at 18 percent, showed the best hiring expectations, followed by those from the Services sector and companies in the Agriculture and Fisheries sectors. Hiring intentions improved in four of the six sectors, compared to the current quarter, including services, agriculture and fisheries, and telecommunications and transportation sector, where Chaverri said the recent arrivals of new airlines are the main drivers of the boost.
The telecom sector will benefit from recent announcements such as the launching of operations here next year of U.S. giant AT&T, and a Telecommunications Superintendence confirmation of the opening of public bids to grant telephone and Internet contracts worth $37 million.
“The job outlook for next year can be described as positive,” Chaverri said, adding that recent growth in the local economy should favor a more optimistic outlook for the business sector in coming periods.
3. Guanacaste airport expansion set to begin in January
Works to expand and improve Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR), in Liberia, Guanacaste will begin next month, Casa Presidencial confirmed in a statement.
Airport administrator Corporación Interamericana de Inversiones (CORIPORT) will invest $10.3 million to expand the terminal and increase its current capacity by about 20 percent.
The project, originally planned to start this year, is now scheduled for completion by next November. It consists of building new boarding gates, VIP lounges, shops and offices over an area of 2,633 square meters (some 28,340 square feet). It also involves the renovation of 1,485 square meters (16,000 square ft) of current waiting and baggage claim areas.
The company will install a new X-ray system, new video and audio systems for passenger information, and an improved wireless network for Internet access.
CORIPORT General Manager César Jaramillo said in a news release that the company hopes all these improvements will allow it to continue offering first-class service for travelers. The expansion will also allow the terminal to receive new flights from at least five more airlines in the short term, he said.
Jaramillo said that new Liberia-Denver and Liberia-Mexico City flights are already scheduled to begin operating next year.
Daniel Oduber Airport is a key terminal for the tourism industry in Costa Rica, thanks to its proximity to some of the country’s main tourist attractions such as beaches, volcanoes and national parks.
It’s located 12 km (7.5 miles) west of Liberia, approximately 40 Km (35 miles) east of the Papagayo Peninsula, and 79 km northeast of the Tamarindo, Conchal and Flamingo area. The airport is approximately 220 Km, or 137 miles, from the capital, San José.
CORIPORT expects to end 2016 with a 35 percent increase in the number of travelers compared to last year. The terminal in 2015 received 426,336 visitors, the company reported.
According to a survey conducted by the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) in 2015, 98.5 percent of travelers who entered the country through Liberia came for tourism, pleasure or recreation. Four percent of them have already been in the country and wanted to return. More than half of them travel as a couple, ICT reported.
4. Government is making a $35 million bet
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The country is about to make a $35 million bet and begin construction of a convention center. Most of the money comes from the tourism institute and represents funds collected at airports from visitors.
Instead of putting this money into effective advertising campaigns, the central government has decided to go into the convention business. Some private hotels have convention space, but not of the size of the 15,600 square meters planned for the 10-acre site 10 kilometers west of San José Centro. That is a structure of 167,917 square feet.
The Centro Nacional de Congresos y Convenciones has long been a dream for government planners.
The convention center represents benefits that will filter through the country and make tourism more dynamic, create jobs, promote hotel development, generate productive relationships and improve the image of the country as a destination, according to the tourism minister, Mauricio Ventura.
Casa Presidencial said it sees the convention center reinforcing the rainy or green season.
The decision to build comes at a time when there is intense competition in the convention business and even destinations like Las Vegas are seeing a reduction in convention visitors. The business has been described as a buyer's market.
Costa Rica also has to contend with higher air fares from U.S. and Canadian destinations when compared to places like Las Vegas. The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo will have to promote the center heavily, although the government agency has never been a standout in marketing. Ventura said that the development and marketing suffered because there was no convention center.
The Contraloría General de la República just approved the construction contract, so government officials are saying that work will start in January. The plan is to finish the center by the end of next year.
5. Cooperative housing bill proposed
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
A bill defining housing cooperatives was presented Thursday by representatives of varying political stripes.
This initiative, if passed, would create a regulatory framework allowing more people in the country to have access to a home through the establishment of a group cooperative. This comes as a response to providing help particularly to young, female breadwinners, the middle class, and others previously excluded from setting up this kind of living arrangement, said lawmakers.
This bill would also set up a state subsidized investment called Bono Familiar de Vivienda for the construction of housing complexes with this cooperative concept.
Proponents argue that the cooperative ownership idea allows people to organize and create their own, formal association. With the association formed, a property could be acquired, where the cooperative association exercises its ownership of the property. The members of the association can then enjoy the right to use the property.
“Initiatives like this, in countries like Uruguay, have had a great success that we wish to replicate here in Costa Rica,” said Víctor Morales Zapata, a legislator and supporter of the bill, “The support from deputies from various factions is a positive signal.”
6. Monetary Fund team says country is vulnerable due to high debt
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Costa Rica's efforts to corral the deficit are insufficient and not sustainable, according to a team that visited from the International Monetary Fund. And, the team said in a statement that the country is vulnerable to negative changes in the world economic conditions.
The Monetary Fund team visited for four days, ending Thursday. It said the country's economy was growing robustly and that growth this year would be about 4.5 percent.
The team said it supported the government's efforts to increase income by cutting salaries and boosting tax collection. And it said it backed the approval of laws that fight tax fraud, high pensions and the reductions in budget surpluses by decentralized agencies.
The team also said that the reinstitution of the tax on corporations, which is in the legislature now, would make a small contribution to fiscal health. But, the team said, these efforts are not sufficient to make the financial position sustainable. The team called for further adjustments to stabilize the national debt.
Costa Rica is dependent on foreign markets because the country finances about half its national budget with debt in addition to the outstanding deficit that requires payment of interest.