Although the average Costa Rican salary is around $500 a month, many well-placed individuals make much more.
Particularly in public agencies, there is no benefit for managers to hold down the salaries. Although many blame the country’s fiscal woes on corruption, there also are little-known salaries that some might consider extravagant.
One such critic is the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, which takes a special interest in the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, the nation’s medical and pension provider.
This employee group has had key roles in a series of corruption allegations, many related to the Caja.
The latest complaint does not involve corruption but high salaries. The association has reported that 100 physicians bring in 1.35 trillion colons a month in salaries. That works out to $24,100 a month on average, but the employee group said that some physicians make as much as 18 million colons a month. That’s about $32,142.
The employe association said it found out this information unofficially when it received a list of the physicians with the top 100 salaries. Many physicians also work for the Caja part time and have lucrative private practices on the side.
The Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados said that it was unable to obtain the salary list formally even though a Sala IV constitutional court ruling said that such information is public.
The association also said that most of the highly paid physicians are specialists or administrators, and that it recognizes that many Caja employees serve with altruism and in compliance with the Hippocratic Oath.
The organization said it was trying to generate public opinion in favor of the proposals it has advanced for changes in the Caja.
The Caja is in delicate financial shape, and several recent corruption probes suggest that part of the reason is because some employees are taking advantage of the public agency. Judicial agents just raided offices at Hospital Calderón Guardia because of allegations that physicians and administrators faked the number of orthopedic patients and collected more than $2 million that way by billing for medical equipment that never was delivered.