San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Legislative Assembly doubles the bounty in Golfito

As a destination for bargain shoppers looking to take advantage of tax-free items, Golfito became more enticing over night.

In a unanimous vote on Wednesday, legislators raised the limit for tax- free purchases in Golfito, allowing thrifty buyers to stuff more into their vans and trucks. Whereas before, customers could purchase a mere $500 worth of goods every six months, under the new law they´ll be able to bring home $1,000.

Golfito is home to the Free Trade Depository ( deposito libre ), a duty-free shopping locale with especially attractive discounts on large-ticket items such as refrigerators, stoves and sound systems. The depository was established in 1990 to encourage development and tourism in the economically depressed southern region. In Costa Rica it´s not unusual for newlyweds and families moving into a new home to assemble all their friends and family for a junket to Golfito, where each can use his or her quota to help fill the new house.

According to a statement from the bill´s sponsor, the Citizen Action Party (PAC), the former quota was insufficient to encourage visitation to the zone, thus defeating the law´s purpose. Statistics from the Regional Development Board of the Southern Zone (Judesur) show that the number of visits to the depository has dropped 25 percent between 1997 and 2007.

PAC legislators Alberto Salom and Oliver Pérez presented the bill in March of 2009 with the aim of restoring the purchasing power of the quota and this increasing commerce in the area. And the new law contains a mechanism to ensure the value of the quota doesn´t depreciate over time.

“As of now, the value of the purchase card, as it´s popularly known, will be reviewed regularly,” said Salom.

The Free Trade Depository is open to foreigners and residents alike. For more information, call 2232-1198.


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