President’s leadership being questioned by lawmakers and pundits

The executive branch is facing more criticism now that Luis Guillermo Solís has been in office for a year.

Opposition Lawmakers reviewed his state of the nation speech this week and concluded that the president has failed to carry out promises that he made to reduce unemployment and boost the economy.

Business leaders are saying the same thing, and one commercial news source, Central American Data, said that the inability of the Solis administration to chart a clear course for the country and the economy is worrying entrepreneurs whose economic prospects are deteriorating rapidly. It blamed notorious political inexperience.

The takeover of the legislature by an opposition coalition is not what Solís wanted. His administration is trying to pass a number of tax bills, and that was one of the reasons that a solid opposition front coalesced May 1. The current leadership vows that there will be no new taxes even as the government moves deeper and deeper into deficit.

The same votes that elected an opposition leadership can defeat any bill.

The legislative members of the Partido Liberación Nacional are among the most vocal.

Silvia Sánchez Venegas told her colleagues this week that Solís in his speech took credit for attracting 39 new firms to Costa Rica and that these generated 10,200 more jobs. However, the unemployment figure in December was 9.7 percent, one point higher than the same time in the previous year, said the lawmaker.

The lawmaker blamed a lack of clarity of a strategy of production.

Karla Prendas Matarrita of the same party said the president’s first year was a step backwards.

Many business operators have been waiting for the president’s tax package. The uncertainty among the business sector has been obvious for the last four months while the Ministerio de Hacienda issued drafts of  proposed tax legislation.

The uncertainty seems to reduce investments and hiring, business leaders have noted.

In addition, exporters have been facing an artificially low exchange rate between the colon and the U.S. dollar. Many exporters are paid in dollars but must pay their own bills in colons. The administration’s  plan appears to be to hold down the value of the dollar to encourage exports and to prevent an exchange rate spike that would affect repayment of the country’s growing debt.

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