San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Legislators Look to Double Their Salaries

After less than a week in office, newly arrived legislators are already looking for a pay raise.

Six of the eight parties represented in the legislative assembly have voiced interest in upping their monthly income from ¢2.5 million ($4,700) to ¢4 million ($7,600). The average salary in Costa Rica was $455 per month in 2008, according to the Central Bank.

The executive branch, under incoming President Laura Chinchilla, said it would support the increase.

“It’s absolutely necessary that we resolve an issue that’s been present in the country for many years,” said Marco Vargas, minister to the president, “and that is the inequality of salaries between the different branches of government.

“Of course we are concerned about the effect it will have on public spending,” he continued, but quickly added that legislators are looking for ways to reduce “unnecessary spending.”

The proposal to increase legislative salaries was first broached by the majority National Liberation Party in the last assembly, whose members left office on May 1. Two left-leaning parties – the Citizen Action Party (PAC) and the Broad Front (Frente Amplio) – have expressed opposition to the bill.

While the executive branch is supporting an increase for the legislative branch, it has not discussed raising salaries for ministers, according to Vargas.

–Chrissie Long

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