Presidential economics panel will coordinate major projects

The mission of the Consejo Presidencial Económico is to coordinate within various ministries the goals and projects of the central government.

The panel consists of vice ministers and other representatives of ministries, said Casa Presidencial Monday.

President Luis Guillermo Solís has decreed that the economics council will meet every 15 days. Chief among the concerns are the creation of a government city to house much of the bureaucracy and the proposed $30 million convention center.

The council is supposed to promote economic development, develop quality employment and combat poverty and reduce the economic inequality as well as promote an open government that fights against corruption, according to the announcement.

The Solís administration is trying to reduce the expenses for rental properties to house government functions. Shortly after he took office in May he began talking about the construction of buildings to centralize the work of the government.

He is not the first to make this proposal. Former president Óscar Arias Sánchez wanted to develop a governmental complex just east of Parque Nacional and north of the park on property owned by the railway institute. Nothing ever happened because of the need to evict private parties and expropriate land.

The convention center seems to be on hold while complaints about bids are resolved. Ground was supposed to be broken west of San José last month, but now the start probably has been pushed forward until the middle of 2015.

The convention center has been promoted as a way to bring visitors to Costa Rica, but there has not been a clear and detailed accounting given to the public as to how the government will make money on the project.

A $30 million investment would need to generate some $58,000 a week to provide a 10 percent return.

The project is under the supervision of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, which has access to a flow of arrival taxes paid by visitors.

Such projects in some U.S. cities have become expensive white elephants.

The proposed convention center is proposed to be 15,000 square meters on 10 hectares of land west of San José. The price tag is expected to be about $30 million.

The proposed convention center is proposed to be 15,000 square meters on 10 hectares of land west of San José. The price tag is expected to be about $30 million.

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