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Business pulse

Costa Rica's president gets poor marks from business sector

Six out of 10 private employers in Costa Rica disapprove of President Luis Guillermo Solís at the end of his first year in office, according to the 10th Business Barometer released this week by consulting firm Deloitte.

The poll found that 64.6 percent of company managers disapproved of Solís’ first year in office, up from 45 percent recorded in November. That’s even lower than former President Laura Chinchilla – the business sector gave her a 57.9 percent disapproval rating after her first year in office.

The study also found that 28.3 percent of those surveyed were neutral on Solís’ work, while 7.1 percent think the president is doing a good job.

The Deloitte survey was carried out between April 20 and May 15 and was administered to 103 executives from local companies with yearly billings over $10 million.

The worst ratings from the business community focused mainly on economic issues: 69 percent of respondents said the president hadn’t done enough to grow the economy; 71 percent said he had been unable to reduce poverty; and an equal percentage said Solís had been unable to reduce unemployment.

Solís scored better on the inflation front: 45 percent said he had done a good job keeping inflation under control — his highest approval rating. Employers’ concern about inflation was one of the most important aspects of the study, Deloitte noted.

In terms of economic outlook, most respondents (57.6 percent) said they believed prices would generally increase 4 to 5 percent this year. A majority (63.8 percent) also said they thought the inflation rate in 2016 would range between 4.5 percent and 6 percent.

Forty-three percent of employers said they didn’t expect significant changes in the economy over the next 12 months, while 42 percent said they thought it would get worse and just 15 percent said the economy was likely to improve.

Alan Saborío, associate director at Deloitte, said the survey results suggested “very moderate optimism” about Costa Rica’s economic situation among the business community.

The Solís administration received average marks for its work on issues besides the economy. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they approved of his work in reducing insecurity; 56 percent approved of his efforts to improve public education; and 53.5 percent said he had done well at reintegrating the country into global discussions.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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Ken Morris

I’d be worried if big business executives supported Solís. In politics, a person is known by their enemies as well as their friends, and politicians want the right enemies.

Telling is that these same big business executives expressed slightly higher support for the deficit-enhancing, corruption-tolerating, and thoroughly incompetent administration of Chinchilla. This hints at what these executives want in a president.

I also doubt that big business executives supported the PAC in the first place. I’m pretty sure that most wanted the business-as-usual (and business-friendly) PLN, or better yet the ML. It’s no surprise that they haven’t changed their minds.

Stranger still is that these executives are faulting (or occasionally crediting) Solís for things over which he has very little control. Most of the control over the economy is in the hands of the legislature, the bureaucracy, and Central Bank, not the presidency.

But maybe the mistake here is the pollsters’. People like to use the president to personify the overall political and economic climate, and pollsters probably asked the executives to rate Solís on criteria that even most of the respondents knew were irrelevant.

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