San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Blue-ribbon panel proposes an increase in the number of Costa Rica's lawmakers

A group of six former government officials and political leaders on Thursday night issued a preliminary report with a list of 95 recommendations to President Laura Chinchilla on how to improve governability in Costa Rica.

One recommendation is that the country increase the number of lawmakers to 87. Currently the Legislative Assembly has 57 members.

Panel members would not comment on details of the proposal, saying the final report would be presented to Chinchilla on Jan. 17.

The panel was formed at Chinchilla’s request and includes ex-lawmakers Constantino Urcuyo and Francisco Antonio Pacheco, constitutional lawyer Manrique Jiménez, former president of the Social Security Fund and Supreme Court Justice Rodolfo Piza Rocafort, former diplomat and ex-presidential candidate Vladimir De la Cruz and former justice vice minister and constitutional lawyer Fabián Volio.

Other changes to the assembly suggested by the experts include the possibility for lawmakers to be re-elected to consecutive terms and a reduction in the discussion period for bills before they are voted on.

Panel members would also grant lawmakers the authority to fire government ministers, and allow the executive branch to make discussion of certain bills mandatory.

The panel said that increasing the number of lawmakers would improve both the country’s governability and the prestige of the assembly, whose lawmakers often fare poorly in opinion polls.

Adding 30 more lawmakers to the assembly would cost taxpayers an additional ₡140 million ($280,000) a month.

Costa Rican lawmakers earn a monthly salary of ₡3.1 million ($6,200), plus other expenses such as gasoline subsidies and paid advisers.

On his Twitter account, Communications Minister Francisco Chacón denied reports that a final report by the panel was delivered at a meeting on Thursday.

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Blue-ribbon panel recommendations

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