San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Riteve Decision Critized

A decision by the ComptrollerGeneral to allow the firm Riteve SyC tocontinue with its controversial contract toperform mandatory vehicle technicalinspections in Costa Rica has added fuelto the flames in a nationwide protestplanned for Monday.The comptroller ruled last week thata request by the Ministry of Public Worksand Transport (MOPT) to annul the contractis void because the four-year periodin which to review the contract expired inMarch 2004.The comptroller’s decision also saidthe ministry was not clear in its reasonswhy the contract should be annulled,which meant Riteve SyC, a Spanish-CostaRican firm, could not fairly defend itself.The contract therefore stands.The comptroller added that the ministrycould correct the errors and resubmitthe request, according to the daily LaNación.HOWEVER, after the comptroller’sdecision was made public, TransportationMinister Randall Quirós said thecase is closed.“The minister’s comments are whatreally bother our members,” said AlfredoEspinoza, treasurer of the Association ofAuto Shop Owners (ATICOS), one of theleading forces in the opposition toRiteve, a Spanish-Costa Rican company.ATICOS, along with various truckdrivers’, transportation and taxi drivers’unions, plan to join other unions’ workers,farmers and teachers at Monday’sprotest, which was announced earlier bygroups opposing the Central AmericanFree-Trade Agreement with the UnitedStates (CAFTA) (TT, May 6).Organizers now say the protests areagainst Riteve, CAFTA and the high costof living.PROTESTS against the same issuesin August of last year, which paralyzedparts of the country for eight days withroad blockades, were part of the reasonthe Executive Branch agreed to reconsiderthe Riteve contract (TT, Aug. 27, Sept.3, 2004).“Minister Randall Quirós was hardlytransparent in his actions, because in themoment of the crisis of the blockades, hesolved the problem by attempting toannul the contract. Now he hides in thetechnicalities of the ComptrollerGeneral’s Office to save him of hisresponsibilities, although it was MOPTitself that proposed the nullification,”said Citizen Action Party legislatorMartha Zamora in a statement.Riteve opponents say the firm illegallyholds a monopoly on vehicle inspections,which goes against the country’sConstitution.PATRIOTIC Union legislator JoséMiguel Corrales also criticized the decision,saying he was told by the comptroller’soffice “gross errors” do exist in thecontract, but nothing can be done becausethe time limit for its review has passed.Corrales said he has been asking thecomptroller to review the contract since2002.The Libertarian Movement Party haspresented a bill to open the technicalrevision to authorized mechanic shops,which would compete with Riteve.

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