Reciting a long list of corruption and negligence from past governments, President Luis Guillermo Solís said Thursday that a recent history of irresponsible governing has held back Costa Rica’s development. Solís delivered his 100-day report of his presidency that not only included a peek into his plans for reform but also gave a scathing critique of the previous administrations’ perceived illegalities and failures.
In the first-ever report of its kind in Costa Rica, the president announced that his administration found that illegal acts happened every day under the various public ministries and institutions from 2006 to 2013 while Partido Liberación Nacional occupied much of the power structure.
“In the majority of public offices the chaos is unimaginable,” Solís said. “There has been corruption, corruption, and more corruption.”
In Costa Rica there’s corruption but it would never seem there’s corrupted people, Solís said, pointing to what he said was the irresponsibility of past leaders and their ability to remain unpunished. Among the most notable offenses that Solís listed were the labor ministry paying pensions to people who were already dead and the former administrations in Casa Presidencial inexplicably losing 117 state-owned cars that still cannot be found.
He admitted that the country’s bureaucratic-heavy system has lead to Costa Rica being a country known for having processes that are slow, costly, and lacking in quality. Being one of the most inefficient countries in the region, he said, is a shameful label that the country they call the happiest in the world needs to shed before it can enjoy greater levels of wealth.
“This population is the most educated, most accepting, and most politically free in our history,” Solís said. “The people want change and serious, doable commitments.”
Though lawmakers and some in the general public openly questioned the report’s necessity leading up to Thursday, Solís insisted that he wants his government to be more transparent and have a constant line of communication with the public. He said Thursday that divided parties, like Liberación Nacional, need to let him govern and that his administration will not be defined by the ruins left behind by previous ruling factions.
When discussing changes that he hopes to conduct over the remaining three years and nine months of his presidency, he mentioned needed improvements within the Caja Costarricense de Seguridad Social that included paying pensions to the 40,000 dependent retirees not receiving them. He also said more attention should be given to effective spending among public schools and universities to help young students succeed with more scholarship opportunities and better funding. According to the president, the government has more than 21 billion colons, or $39 million, saved up to spend on all public works.
Solís’s speech lasted for a little more than an hour and was followed by questions from a selection of invited guests, including questions from the minister of Mujeres and a representative of a native group about possible reform for marginalized groups. In response to a question from a representative of the foreign trade sector, Solís said the country needs more quality jobs that come from attracting foreign investment and exporting products.
A tourism representative asked Solís if the government was going to offer a hand in keeping the sector afloat following the implementation of a potentially crippling sales tax. The president responded that his administration is trying to give the necessary support to tourism leaders for the industry to be competitive on a regional scale and that there was open dialogue involving the controversial 13 percent tax recently added to certain tours that businesses depend on.