San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Legislators Propose Harsher Punishments

BUSINESSES discovered to haveoffered gifts to public officials involvedin contract negotiations would be preventedfrom providing products or servicesto the state for up to ten years,rather than the current five years, underan initiative proposed by congressmanBernal Jiménez, of the NationalLiberation Party (PLN).Legislative Assembly members onTuesday voted unanimously to exemptthe initiative from standard legislativeprocedures in order to bring it to a votemore quickly.“It’s a little amendment, but veryimportant,” Jiménez told The Tico Times.“A company that comes here shouldknow that bribery is a crime.”Current legislation allows for two tofive years of sanctions under article 100of the Administrative Contracting Law, ifit can be proved the company in questionoffered gifts to officials.Jiménez said that without the vote toput the initiative on the “fast track,” theinitiative probably would have taken upto two or three years to become law, butnow he expects it to reach a vote within amonth.At least 38 of the 57 legislators mustvote in favor for the initiative to pass.Such support seems likely, given theTuesday’s unanimous vote.However, legislator FedericoMalavassi, of the Libertarian MovementParty, told La Nación this week he is concernedsuch lengthy sanctions couldimpede Costa Rica’s technological development.

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