Comptroller Rejects Agreement Between Alterra, Government

August 4, 2006

The government this week guaranteed that the operations of Juan Santamaría International Airport outside San José will not be interrupted despite a lingering alleged financial imbalance problem that has no solution in sight.

The statement came after the Comptroller General once again rejected a contract addendum that was to fix the alleged imbalance, and Alterra announced it is considering suspending operations here.

It was the third version of the addendom sent by the government and airport administrator Alterra Partners to the Comptroller and the third version rejected this year.

Comptroller Rocío Aguilar told the daily La Nación that the contract does not clarify whether or not Alterra would be accountable for the alleged imbalances.

In the contract addendum, Alterra was to receive 65% of the money produced by the airport, and the Technical Council of the Civil Aviation Authority (CTAC) was to receive 35%.

That distribution would have guaranteed Alterra sufficient funds to finish airport improvements and pay off $120 million in financing owed to its international creditors, according to the airport manager.

But the Comptroller called the addendum a “material reduction of the CTAC’s rights,” adding that it could have as much as a $12 million impact on the state’s income.  CTAC’s president Viviana Martín said the government now has the option of seeking a new financial adjustment plan or the government can take over as airport administrator.

Mónica Nágel, Alterra’s manager in Costa Rica, told the radio station “Monumental” the airport operator might terminate the contract because of the latest rejection of the addendum.

President Oscar Arias this week urged Alterra to see out the contract.

Alterra’s 20-year contract, which began in 2001, has been plagued by financial problems since 2003.

 

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