Porn Prohibited in Legislature

March 24, 2006

*Though legislators now have new laptop computers at their seats, a new regulation that will take effect April 1 prevents them, along with the rest of the Legislative Assembly staff, from visiting Internet pornography sites, downloading music or sending mass e-mails with inappropriate content, the daily Al Día reported. The Assembly Computer Use Regulation, approved by the legislative directorate last week, charges faction leaders with ensuring their party’s legislators follow the rules. Those who disobey will face consequences that could include dismissal for repeat offenders.

*A group of legislators is lobbying in favor of legislative reelection to consecutive terms, which is now prohibited. Assembly members from the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), National Liberation (PLN) and the Libertarian Movement support the change, which would require modifying Article 107 of the Constitution, Al Día reported.

*However, as some legislators lobby to spend more time at the assembly, some apparently want to minimize their hours there. Citizen Action Party (PAC) legislator Marta Zamora and Patriotic Bloc legislator Juan José Vargas told Al Día a group of legislators has proposed an 11-day recess for Holy Week, though less than two months have passed since the 45-day vacation they took at Christmas and New Year’s. Unity legislator Liliana Salas said PAC leaders made up this rumor to make other parties look bad.

*Leaders continued to flock to Oscar Arias’ home in the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser to meet with the President-elect. There on March 17 was Majatta Rasi, Vice-Minister of Cooperation of Finland, to whom Arias announced that he will not seek forgiveness on the controversial $32 million loan Finland gave Costa Rica in 2001, according to the daily La Nación. President Abel Pacheco said late last year that Finland should not ask Costa Rica to pay back the loan, the use of which has become the subject of corruption investigations in both countries (TT, Jan. 6); however, Finnish leaders, and now Arias, say that’s an impossible request since the private Sampo Bank and not the government turned over the funds (TT, Jan. 20).

*Rumors continue to fly regarding Arias’  Cabinet selections. In an interview with La Nación published Sunday, Arias said he has made most of his picks, though he is not yet ready to announce all of them. First Vice-President Laura Chinchilla will serve as Justice Minister, while Second Vice-President Kevin Casas will be Planning Minister – giving the government more bang for its buck, since each will receive only one salary for doing both jobs. Arias’ brother Rodrigo is confirmed as Minister of the Presidency, and economist Guillermo Zúñiga, Arias’ Finance Minister during his first administration (1986-1990), will return to that post, the daily reported. Arias announced last week that Central Bank President Francisco de Paula Gutiérrez would stay on in that position (TT, March 17).

*Arias plans to merge the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) and part of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC) to form a new Ministry of Production that would be in charge of all productive policies, as well as some export policies, La Nación reported. The change would have to be made through a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly but in the meantime Arias will make preliminary adjustments through executive decree.

*Arias told the daily that the relatively low salaries for high-level government jobs have proved a serious problem for him in convincing qualified people to join his administration.Would-be government ministers generally have to leave jobs in the private sector paying about ¢5 million (approximately $10,000) per month to take a Cabinet post paying no more than ¢1.5 million ($3,000), Arias said.

*Details regarding Arias’ inauguration ceremony, to be held May 8, continued to be revealed this week as Arias, who has said he will walk to the ceremony from his house in Rohrmoser instead of riding a limousine as he did in 1986, confirmed the event will take place in the National Stadium in La Sabana Park. The ceremony, which has a budget of ¢100 million ($200,000), will be followed by a reception at Pueblo Antiguo in the NationalAmusement Park.

*President Abel Pacheco announced at his weekly Cabinet meeting Tuesday that he will meet with Arias March 27 at Casa Presidencial to discuss the transfer of power and other issues. He said the agenda will depend on the issues the President-elect wishes to discuss.

 

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