San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Business pulse

Pessimism prevails in Costa Rica’s business sector for 2015

The optimism that followed the inauguration of President Luis Guillermo Solís last May has since dissipated among the country’s business sector, according to the latest study by consulting firm Deloitte, released Monday.

Back then, a Deloitte study showed that only 23.8 percent of employers who were surveyed believed the country’s economic situation would worsen within a year. Now, 45.2 percent believe it will, an increase of more than 20 percent.

The results were published in Deloitte’s “Ninth Business Barometer,” a survey of Costa Rica’s 137 top executives conducted in October and November.

The number of entrepreneurs who believe the economy is better now than it was a year ago also dropped, from 16.3 percent to 14.8 percent. The percentage of those who said the economy has remained the same decreased from 59.9 percent to 52.6 percent.

The results are similar to those reported in late November by the Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of Private Business Sector (UCCAEP) in a quarterly business confidence rating that dropped from 6.2 to 5.9. The rating measured expectations for the fourth quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2013.

At the time, UCCAEP President Ronald Jiménez said they were concerned about the loss of confidence in the sector, “because without confidence there’s no investment, and without additional investment it will be impossible to create the jobs this country needs.”

Solís’ approval rating among the business sector also is low, with nearly half of those surveyed (45 percent) saying they disapprove of his performance. Only 16 percent of those surveyed said they approve of his handling of the economy.

Deloitte’s findings also are consistent with concerns expressed by the private sector following the president’s lifting of a veto on a labor reform bill last Friday. That announcement generated a flurry of criticism from business groups who argued that the move would worsen the country’s foreign investment climate.

Costa Rica Chamber of Commerce President Francisco Llobet the same day said in a statement that “the country’s situation will worsen because the government’s decision will increase instability for the business sector.”

Deloitte’s study found increasingly negative views regarding the country’s investment climate. Nearly 57 percent of those surveyed said it is worse than a year ago, an increase of 11.5 percent over May’s figures. That number is the highest in the past two years.

Deloitte’s Alan Saborío said the results clearly reveal a negative outlook for next year.

He said: “Hopefully the new year will bring calm and the wisdom to leverage our strengths and the best of our traditions, [as well as] to sit down and talk about how to set a proper course that allows us to regain optimism.”

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Rick Nelson

Just trying to cope with CRica’s weakened (conservation based), economy is difficult enough even with the best of intentions, now just imagine what havoc, poverty and caos will result from willful leftist progressive policies. There is no end to low CR can go under these conditions.

The only nation in Latin America where Gov’t employees earn more than the equivalent private sector, their main and possibly only mission in life now it to protect those freebies for as long as the “good times” will last, til the ship sinks.

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Jim Ryan

With respect to the renewable energy sector, for all its good words, this administration has been a disaster thus far in terms of its action (and inaction). Specifically….
– Solis selected as CEO at ICE a virtual ‘dinosaur’ in terms of energy policy when he installed Sr. Obregan. This was especially painful as he removed the outstanding ICE CEO and Costa Rican statesman Teofilo de la Torre, who had previously served as MINAE Minister and had actively promoted private citizens (residential and business) to have the rights to install and grid-connect their own solar generation.
– Meanwhile the ARESEP regulator authority has introduced new regulations to make net-metering and grid-connection rights available to all citizens/businesses. But it turns out this was more tease than substance, as they have since caved into the powerful influence of the electricity distribution companies and made the entire process of connecting small-scale solar generation incredibly complicated, bureaucratic and thus expensive. Essentially they have buried the possibility for Costa Rica to become a leader in renewable generation.
This anti-renewable energy behavior at ARESEP is particularly troubling because the consumers, who ARESEP is supposed to protect, are in dire need or relief from the very high electricity tariff prices (which ARESEP has approved). And also troubling because we can see the evidence of climate change affecting us here at home as well as in the wider world. And while many other countries are making small-scale renewable energy a major part of their solution to tariff price and environmental concerns, here in ‘green’ Costa Rica, the government is actually moving the other direction, away from private, small-scale solar generation.
We must ask ourselves, why are Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama all announcing large scale, multi-million dollar investments in solar generation, but no such projects do or can exist in Costa Rica (due to the barriers ARESEP has created). These same countries have facilitated consumers investing in their own small-scale solar in order to serve their needs, while ARESEP is defending the status quo by helping to protect the monopolies enjoyed by Costa Rica’s powerful electriicty distribution companies. Where is the political leadership to ‘do the right thing’ in the face of the powerful distribution companies? Evidently it is not to be found in this administration…..so you are not likely to see solar panels appear on rooftops around our cities as you do now see in Guatemala City, San Salvador, Panama City etc.
Respectfully,
Jim Ryan
President
ASI Power & Telemetry, S.A.

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