Business operators show a slight weakening of confidence

Visitors Wednesday appear to appreciate statues of average Costa Ricans at the west door of the Banco Central. Photo: A.M. Costa Rica

Business leaders as a group are pretty much unchanged in their perception of economic activity and their confidence in the future.

A survey sought responses from 456 business leaders in October. They were asked their expectations for the final three months of the year and they were asked to assess the status of their business for the three months just concluded.

The Unión de Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, which did the survey, said that the perception of how the businesses fared dipped from 5.07 in the same period a year earlier to 4.98 on a 10-point scale.

The chamber said that this result was in line with an index of economic activity computed by the Banco Central, which said that the economy dipped about 3.4 percent in July, August and September.

Confidence in the future was estimated at 5.5 or about 1 percent lower than the previous report, the chamber said.

The organization made much of the small changes and said that the central government needs to send clear signals over the opening of the telecommunications market as well as take other concrete actions that have been promised. One
of these is to execute a loan for the Limón Ciudad Puerto that has been in the works for two years. That project involves heavy expenditures to improve the infrastructure of the Caribbean province.

The chamber produces a survey every three months, and the data has been an important index during the economic crisis. The responses to the survey are affected by the nature of the industry in which each business owner is involved. For example, operators of construction firms showed a drop of 17 percent, from 5.2 to 4.3 in confidence over the last three months of the year.

The tourism industry also showed a weakening of confidence, dropping to 4.3 in confidence against a previous 5.9 in estimating business in the last three months of the year.

Some 56 percent of those surveyed said they thought that the Banco Central’s system for setting the exchange rate with the dollar needed to be revised.

The chamber has been doing this census of business attitudes for 11 years.

The results, released Wednesday, come at a time when the Chinchilla administration is pushing through a series of new taxes in the Asamblea Legislativa.

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