Finance minister conducts strategy talk with officials

Helio Fallas, who serves double duty as vice president and also the head of the finance ministry, met Wednesday morning with a handful of officials as part of the effort to get a grip on the nation’s budget.

Later, in a summary provided by his Ministerio de Hacienda, Fallas was reported to be concerned by the increase in 2013 of the national debt. That increase was 10.5 percent, the summary said.

Fallas met with  Marta Acosta, the Contraladora de la República, the chief budget watchdog.

He also met with  Olivier Castro, the new president of the Banco Central;  Carlos Obregón, executive president of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad;  Sara Salazar, the executive president of the  Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, and the two Hacienda vice ministers,  José Francisco Pacheco and Fernando Rodríguez.

Fallas was quoted as saying he wanted to get different points of view on the nation’s financial situation.

He also was reported to be concerned by the low level of execution of important public works projects. He cited as an example the government’s  Limón Ciudad Puerto plan to revamp that area around the Caribbean administrative center. He also was reported looking at inconsistencies in the payments of pensions and other money given to government workers.

He also was reported to have identified weaknesses within his own ministry that he is planning to fix.

As minister of Haciendaa,  Fallas is the leading figure in efforts by President Luis Guillermo Solís  to rein in the national budget, which is likely to show a 6 percent deficit this fiscal year.

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