San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Pain at the pump

Costa Ricans continue paying high gas prices but have the worst roads in Central America

Though the country’s gas prices continue to rise, Costa Rican roads are still ranked the worst in Central America according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF’s 2014 Global Enabling Trade Report ranks Costa Rica’s roads 116th out of 138 countries, the worst in Central America and the fourth worst in all of Latin America – with only Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela ranking lower. Costa Rica also ranked the third lowest in Latin America for port infrastructure, beating out only Venezuela and land-locked Bolivia. According to the report, the nation’s infrastructure is one of its largest competitive disadvantages.

Since January, the price of “Plus” gasoline in Costa Rica has increased by $0.76 per gallon, according to data from the Costa Rican National Oil Refinery. In 2008, Plus gasoline replaced “Regular,”which had a lower octane rating. “Super” gasoline is higher octane and costs more. As of May 29, Costa Rica’s Plus gas prices were at approximately $5.13 a gallon. According to, which compiles weekly gasoline data for most countries, this makes Costa Rican gas the second most expensive in Central America behind Belize at $5.32 per gallon. Panama has the cheapest gas in the region at $3.96 per gallon.

The high fuel prices are due in part to Costa Rica’s 29 percent gas tax, which goes directly to the National Roadway Council (CONAVI) for roadwork, but the tax revenue hasn’t been able to improve the country’s roads. A 2013 study by engineers from the National Structural Materials and Models Laboratory found that between 15 and 20 percent of Costa Rica’s roads were paved with unsuitable materials. Construction of the deficient roads represented an investment of more than $23 million from CONAVI, 22 percent of the organization’s two-year budget.

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William Darter

You might want to check some numbers, as the ones in the article put CONAVI’s budget at $52M/year. Which also equates to annual gas sales in CR of $180M, which I also doubt.

I had always understood that the gas taxes went to general revenue, which is a lot more believable than your figures.

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This is too bad.

I think the productivity of the road workers (and supervision) has a lot to do with the lack of progress.

Everyone pays the gas road tax thinking that it is worth the sacrifice. Budget is allocated and salaries are paid to build the roads. However, whenever you pass by, you see one out of ten pretending to work.

What a shame.

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Coming from South Africa it is no different there. !0 people standing around while one works. This problem is not unique to Costa Rica as in South Africa they also have very high fuel taxes also to maintain the roads etc, but the government plunders the money saved for other non road projects and thus the roads deteriorate.

Perhaps with the new change in government here, hopefully there will be some changes.

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Don Blake

Oh come on….let’s stop lying and bullshitting….the money goes into corrupt government officials and big business owners pockets…..nothing gets spent on the roads….just like the luxury house tax I pay, which is supposed to go to building homes for poor people….built where?….do you see any?…..just like the money saved from disbanding the Costa Rican army, which propoganda says went into providing education…..bullshit!…schools still don’t have enough books and computers etc for kids…’s all crap….wake up…..the government are stealing from you every hour of every day of every month of every year, and will continue to do so until Costa Rucans put their brains into gear, get off their lazy arses anddo something about it……stop taking everything lying down like cowards….get up, fight for your rights, and say no more!

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Alberto González

I think that in all honesty most vehicle owners wouldn’t mind much putting up with gas price increases if we actually saw that money being invested in our road system. Which of course is not happening. We as citizens have been terribly shortchanged by the governments of the last 30 years, paying European prices for our gas and getting African roads in exchange.

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