Prosecutors help Caja collect employer debts

The Ministerio Público said Thursday that it helped the country’s main social services agency recover 138.8 million colons from employers. That is about $278,500.

The beneficiary was the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, which operates the country’s hospitals. Each month employers are supposed to turn over a percentage of the payroll to the Caja. Some comes from employees’ salaries, but the bulk comes from employers.

The Ministerio Público credited the recovery of funds to its 5-year-old Oficina de Conciliaciones. The ministry is the free-standing agency that houses prosecutors. Basically it is the nation’s attorney general. However, managers of the prosecution of cases are encouraging the use of conciliation to reduce the court caseload.

In addition to Caja shortfalls, the conciliation unit handled 1,100 other cases in 2010, said the ministry.

Conciliation in the case of the Caja gives officials a strong tool. Because employees contribute to the Caja payments, an employer who does not remit the money can face an allegation of taking public funds. Some 800 cases of Caja shortfalls came to the agency between June and November, the ministry said.

The Caja has a corps of inspectors who check the payroll of employers. The amount each pays depends on the size of the company. The full amount usually runs around 35 percent with employees paying about 9 percent.

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