U.S. investors wary after Millicom, Intel

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Only in Costa Rica where up is down and black is white, where no two government agencies can ever agree on policy and where no effort is ever made to plan a strategic future for the country, would the newly elected president go to the U.S. looking for investments.

Two large U.S. employers have not even completely moved out, and he is hoping to convince other companies that Costa Rican policies have changed for the better. Intel did not leave only for cheaper wages in Vietnam. The Caja would not flex in their rigid rules for workers’ shifts, making it very difficult for Intel to run their production efficiently. The problem is that the bureaucracy is well dug in and independent of national goals, each bureau is like a fiefdom staking out its own terrain.

President Solis is looking for U.S. investors. How about easing up on pensioner immigration status like Costa Rica had 20 years ago?  Panamá and Ecuador are earnestly enticing U.S. pensioners to retire to their respective countries offering discounts at stores and services and moving incentives, and U.S. retirees are flooding into those countries. What could be better for a country than these cash cows that pour money into the country and require very few national resources?

How about putting some attention and common sense into the maritime zone law? As it is now, coastal development only moves forward by corruption and/or by those wealthy enough to accomplish their projects. By establishing a cohesive plan regulator and issuing sensible concessions, the country can begin to collect millions and millions of dollars in property taxes. 95 percent of the coastal occupants have no property rights but pay no property taxes either.

U.S. companies have seen how the Costa Rican government treats U.S. investors from Millicom to Intel, and they will not rush to invest in a country where the rules change from agency to agency and from one administration to the other, and where energy prices have no end in sight. Businesses want profits but they also want stability and fair play. The president needs to correct the situation here in his own government, and businesses will come knocking on the doors.

James Loren
Nicoya Peninsula


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