San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Pledges to Donate Salary to Poor

President Oscar Arias announced an unusual New Year’s resolution this week: starting in January 2007, he’s going to put his money where his mouth is by donating his entire salary each month to the poor.

Arias made the announcement Tuesday during a Christmas party held at a sports complex in Rincón Grande de Pavas, in western San José, according to a statement from Casa Presidencial.

“The truth is, I’m not going to live better or worse with my salary,” Arias said. “I’m going to give it to some senior citizens’ homes that need help, and… associations that have to do with kids, with the sick, with the disabled, with schools.”

Before taking office May 8 for his second term – Arias was also President from 1986-1990 – he received a government pension for his previous service, but the law required the suspension of that pension when he returned to the presidency, Casa Presidencial spokesman Esteban Arrieta told The Tico Times Wednesday.

The President told The Tico Times earlier this year that he voluntarily gave up the “exclusive dedication” bonus he is eligible to receive in his current post (TT, Sept. 8), though Casa Presidencial clarified this week that Arias donates the funds to various charities. These include the Palliative Care Foundation, the Costa Rican Cystic Fibrosis Association, the Orphans’ Hospice, the Works of the Holy Spirit Association and the Social-Productive Workshop for the Disabled, the statement said.

Arrieta said he does not have the exact amount of Arias’ salary but that it is “more than ¢4 million (approximately $7,767).”

At the Rincón Grande event, Arias handed out 15 government housing grants, or bonos, nine checks for low-income families with kids in high school and two wheelchairs.


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