Yule parties prompt presidential ban

The latest scandal in public funds is the Christmas party. So President Luis Guillermo Solís Wednesday ordered central government entities to refrain from using public money for this purpose.

The directive from the president may not have as much weight as he expects because a number of agreements with workers at government agencies provide for such activities. So the president said that in cases where an agreement exists mandating the government to pay for a party, the head of the agency is to take steps to annul the pact.

That may result in some legal actions.

The government has been caught flat-footed when television stations reported on expensive parties, including one about to be contracted for by the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo.

The president’s directive does not cover the legislature, the judiciary or the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, although officials there might take steps to prevent parties.

The party at the petroleum monopoly was to cost $13,000, and La Nación, the Spanish-language newspaper reported Wednesday that a second party was planned for the company’s workers in Limón.

Austerity is the current watchword because the legislature is considering the national budget for next year, and the document predicts another big deficit.

La Nación was highly critical of lawmakers in an editorial Wednesday that had nothing to do with Christmas parties. The newspaper said that the Solís administration was only interested in enough taxes to allow him to complete his presidential term and that lawmakers failed to act decisively in cutting the budget.

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