$340 million in road projects seen helping economy

The central government announced $340 million in road projects Friday and said that it also was seeking more housing construction and a stabilization of the dollar-color exchange rate.

Casa Presidencial said that approval had been received from the Contraloría General de la República to resume construction on the San Carlos highway. The estimated $140 million is included in the national budget. This is the highway that the government of Taiwan was building for the country.

The project was put in limbo in June 2007 when then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez dumped Taiwan in favor of the People’s Republic of China, which choose to build a soccer stadium instead.

Casa Presidencial also said that it expected to publish two offers for bids on road projects being financed by foreign resources. They are the Chilamate Vueta de Kooper highway and widening of the Cañas-Liberia highway. Total costs will be about $200 million, said Casa Presidencial.
The announcement came just as the business chamber said that a survey said that 55 percent of the business operators do not think that the government is taking steps to reactivate the economy. The chamber, the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, said last week that an index of economic activity had declined for 11 straight months.

The chamber also said that 51 percent of the respondents to the survey said they would not be making capital investments.

Casa Presidencial said that it was asking the legislature to approve a proposal for housing construction bonds for citizens and several technical changes that would reduce the cost of borrowing for housing.

The central government also noted that the Banco Central was seeking to stabilize the dollar-colon exchange rate and seeking ways to stimulate the demand for dollars.

The country has been flooded with dollars from abroad and this has affected the exchange rate that has fallen about 80 colons to the dollar in the last year. The current rate to buy colons is 494.5 per U.S. dollar.

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