San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

UNA Study: Bureacracy Inhibits Fight against Poverty

An Universidad Nacional (UNA) study found that Costa Rica’s state bureaucracy works against the government’s attempt to fight poverty.

The study, by the School of Planning and Social Betterment (PPS) in the district of Nosara in the Nicoya Peninsula, found that though the government has put forth funds for pensions and internships in the area, bureaucratic hurdles impeded many residents in that community – in which half are poor and 16% live in extreme poverty –from gaining access to them.

“The very institutions designed to fight poverty suffer from a severe case of “tramitología,” which make them adversaries instead of allies in the fight,” said a statement from the university.

The study’s author, Miguel Sobrado, said the administration’s attempts to fight poverty would have better results if the country’s bureaucratic system were reformed, and had better institutional coordination.

In an attempt to mitigate poverty plaguing Nosara households, PPS helped community members get access to professional training courses, and helped create local businesses, but when it came to helping families receive welfare benefits and scholarships, “the results were partial.”

The statement said according to the Mixed Institute for Social Aid (IMAS), which manages Costa Rica’s welfare system, citizens older than 65 qualify to receive pension benefits. But the Social Security System (Caja) demands eight different documents for senior citizens to actually receive those benefits. Furthermore, the statement said those with property that exceeds 500 square meters don’t qualify to receive benefits.

Sobrado found that of the school scholarships given at the beginning of the year based on teacher recommendations, 60% went to students who aren’t considered poor by IMAS standards.

“There’s so much trámite, that often those in extreme poverty don’t receive any benefits, and they may not have the luxury of spending days running in circles in public institutions,” he said.


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