Cost of consumer credit emphasized in report

The economics ministry is emphasizing the impact of high consumer interest rates.

In a report last week, the ministry noted that a 200,000 colon ($380) televison set ends up costing a consumer 530,000 colons ($1,007) after a 60-month credit deal at 4 percent interest per month.

Such situations that some would call usury are not uncommon in Costa Rica. The ministry, the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio, noted that credit card interest rates range from 24 percent, mostly at state banks, to 65 percent.

In Costa Rica there are more credit cards in circulation, about 5 million, than residents. The ministry estimated the consumer debt at 933 billion colons or about $1.77 billion.

There is some movement in the legislature to put a cap on interest rates, but bankers, of course object.

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