San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican lawmakers to probe Labor Minister on recent business closures, layoffs

Costa Rica’s Labor Minister Víctor Morales Mora will appear before the Legislative Assembly to testify about recent hikes in unemployment rates and businesses closures.

A majority of 54 of the total 57 lawmakers on Monday evening passed a motion to question Morales before the full Assembly about the government’s response to job losses in recent weeks.

Legislators will also ask Morales to explain the Solís administration’s policies on job creation and its plans to attract foreign direct investment.

Morales responded positively to the motion on his Facebook page Monday evening.

“I would like to express my absolute willingness to appear before the full Assembly…as improving employment rates is one of this administration’s key goals,” Morales wrote, adding that he had “a lot to report.”

He said it’s imperative to bring together the government and the business sector. He also said a legislative agenda aimed at improving employment is equally necessary.

The lawmakers’ request comes on the heels of cutbacks announced by two food companies.

Last week local snack manufacturer Alimentos Jack’s announced plans to move 50 percent of its operations to other countries due to high production costs here. And over the weekend the franchise owners of Burger King restaurants in Costa Rica said they would close four of their locations.

In late February the National Statistics and Census Institute reported that unemployement rates in the last quarter of 2014 increased by 1.4 percentage points compared to the same period in 2013, from 8.3 percent to 9.7 percent. That means a total of 220,175 people were unemployed during the last quarter of 2014.

The increase was driven mainly by unemployment among women; female unemployment reached 11.8 percent at the end of 2014 — a 2.7 percentage point increase compared to the previous year — while the unemployment rate for men remained close to 8.3 percent.

In their motion Monday, lawmakers did not set an exact date for Morales’s testimony before the full Assembly.

Contact L. Arias at

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Don’t worry — Costa Rica is not doomed to any collapse.
Many gringos have been hoping this for decades; they spend their days repeating this mantra to all who will listen.
But facts don’t support this, as Costa Rica always manages to survive, and do fairly well.
The price of power here, for example, is far from “absurd.”
In fact, it is the second lowest in Central America; the only country lower is Honduras, which heavily subsidizes rates.
ICE had to take out a full-page ad in La Nacion last Sumday to get across this point, which professional journalists should include in any story about Costa Rica competitiveness.
See page 15A of Sunday’s (March 1) La Nacion for the comparison.
The average electricity cost in Honduras is 17.75 cents per kW/h; in Costa Rica it’s 18.48; in Panama it’s 18.88; in Nicaragua it’s 21.09; in El Salvador it’s 23.07; in Guatemala it’s 24.42.
It is true that foreigners now have a hard time opening a bank account here, but that’s because Costa Rica is being forced to impose banking restrictions by the U.S. and other countries, in the name of fighting money laundering. And older accounts in Costa Rica by foreigners were grandfathered, with only the necessity to show source of income every few years.
Can foreigners from any country can walk into a US bank and easily open an account?
Only if they are persistent and are from Canada, but that’s a special case.
Why don’t people who don’t like the Costa Rican system, if they are not Costa Rican citizens, simply leave?

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The price is 83 colones per kwh for the first 200 then it jumps to like 143. Then if you install power for construction it’s higher than that. This might be fine for the expat who banks in dollars but how about people who work for colones?
I don’t see how you think that Costa Rica does fairly well. almost 25% of the population lives below the poverty line and how many do you think are on the border? I would bet at least another 15%. Back to the power rates Nicaragua has a rate of just over 20 cents per kwh. There is no change after 200 kw as I believe probably is the same with all the other countries. They also don’t have the power generation that we have here, especially all of the renewable energy plants that are supposed to be cheaper after paying down the startup.
Banks, My wife and sons cannot get bank accounts. They are tico but have no job. We cannot open accounts to start any sort of education in how to take care of money as well as save for their college educations. None of the new procedures to thwart money laundering works if the banks themselves are involved. Also as long as you are legal in the united states you can walk into any bank and open an account.
I like how you automatically take the leave grino approach. It sounds like you are pretty well off money wise. So do you care at all about the rest of our citizens or are you a politician that only speaks for votes not for actual action. The citizens of Costa Rica deserve better. Crime is rising at an alarming rate,poverty is also growing,Corporations are leaving. You cannot ignore the signs. No matter what ICE reports why are all of these companies bailing out. Bank of America is gone, Burger kings are closing, shopping centers sit vacant. in 2014 almost 5% of the population of Costa Rica lost their jobs. Tell me, what sign do you see that we are doing pretty well. New roads that we had to borrow all of the money for? I am not advocating for the rich, I am for the people that struggle to make ends meet. Thats who suffers the most. So don’t pass judgment on me, instead look at it from the point of view of the people in the ghettos of San Jose, The people living in homes with dirt floors and corrugated steel walls. Then tell me things are fairly well again.

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Costa Rica is likely doomed to the same collapse that the U.S had. The Government simply is not addressing the issues needed to push this country forward. Costa Rica can not survive without industry. The price of power here is absurd. I know the startup costs for these renewable energy plants cost money but it’s been a decade of high rates. When will the returns be seen. There is No proper Tax code and,so all taxes are pretty much obtained from luxury items. The ridiculous prices of construction and land here don’t help either. Only the rich can afford to buy anything which is wrong. The country keeps borrowing money for roads, Is FCC even employing costa ricans? The bank systems are a joke, If your not a resident or citizen you can’t get one. You can’t even open an account if your a citizen iand have no job so you cannot even open an account for your kids to save for college or for your wife who is a homemaker. They say it’s to Curb money laundering but, Costa Rica is pretty high on the list for money laundering countries. Here are some more BS things about the way things are. There is a house being constructed illegaly, It’s not to code has not been approved by any government body. However work goes on, So when they get caught what happens…Pay a little bit of cash and complete their home that looks like a well built home but really it’s a piece of crap that was never approved to be built. They should make them pay the fine, Destroy the building and start all over again. There is no reason to follow the law here because there really is nothing they will do except ask for a hand out. Just like the cops showing you their paper, You can pay this and go to court or pay me this and I will let you go. Also how about the government workers that spend half of their time sleeping in their trucks in the woods. It’s getting worse everyday and because the government has no order, crime is shooting up like the volcano in chile

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I wonder who the goverment of Costa Rica will blame for the High unemployment? The Minister of Labour does not have a clue about anything. More layoffs coming get ready for 20% unemployment like greece.

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