The Business Year

Some of the biggest names of the Costa Rican cabinet discuss the aspirations of the new administration.

Marí­a Del Pilar Garrido

Minister, National Planning and Economic Policy (MIDEPLAN)

One of the most relevant points of the Alvarado administration is the importance of education as an engine of social mobility, economy, sustainable development, and knowledge. Education is also key to close gaps in human rights to generate equality in access to both goods and services and opportunities, and achieve sustainable development. The plans Costa Rica has for 2050 require certain profiles in certain places and geographic regions. We must engage young women to achieve economic expectations, and we must work articulately and incorporate cooperation into our agenda. We will work on science and technology programs to reflect the results in the highest priorities of the National Development Plan of Public Investment as well as in the efforts made under the sectoral plans and strategy areas. One of the president’s clearest mandates has been to simplify procedures and make regulatory improvements to encourage the business climate to improve because it is one of the key points in the global competitiveness index.

Luis Adrián Salazar

Minister, Science, Technology, and Telecommunications (MICITT)

Communications is highly important to develop infrastructure. We must improve our efforts to grow our broadband penetration, and we have to connect the education sector and other institutions with new technologies. The private sector needs more incentives to invest, and we are trying to do this in the telecommunications area. We want to develop the best way to facilitate investment, and we want to see more development. To achieve all that, MICITT is defining the roadmap for the next four years. Moreover, we need to increase the capacity of the government to develop infrastructure. MICITT has several initiatives aimed at improving innovation activities across many different layers and including many different stakeholders. Another focus area is e-government; we are trying to define the e-government governance model for Costa Rica. We have strong telecommunications skills, good penetration in mobile service, and strong SME participation; however, we have to consider innovation as the main tool for development in the next 10 years. We want to use technology to utterly transform the lives of all Costa Ricans.

Irene Campos

Minister, Irene Campos

A study by the Inter-American Development Bank shows that Costa Rica has the lowest deficit print of approximately 13-14%. We have implemented a successful housing policy called the National Financial System for Housing through a PPP. The state, through an institution, makes the corresponding analysis and ultimately approves or rejects projects. Of all the funds designated to housing, 60% is applied to individual bonds, meaning families who find their own solution, while the other 40% is allocated to projects. Families earning over CRC400,000 per month also benefit from a housing subsidy, albeit a relatively low one. We are working on ways to provide greater assistance through access to credit. In terms of speeding up construction permits for investors, Executive Decree 36550 has tasked the Ministry of Housing with the coordination of all procedures. For the past five years, all mid-stage permits have been digitalized and dispensed through a single window. Also, there are deadlines in place, which if exceeded automatically mean project approval. Of the 82 municipalities, 30 already operate on the same platform.

Marí­a Amalia Revelo

Minister, Tourism

My priority is the development of small and medium tourist companies. 94% of the accommodation distributed by the country has less than 40 rooms, and this allows welfare to reach different communities. The National Tourism Development Plan determines 31 development centers that we manage in a way that allows us to work with various institutions and ministries. We make a diagnosis of the opportunities that exist in those zones of tourist development and study the opinions of tourists. Later, during a two-day workshop, we analyze the place, its lodgings, tourist offerings, the opinions of local operators, and the obstacles and opportunities. Finally, we make a five-year projection and the strategy, in which we include local partners, committed chambers, and mayors. At the end of my mandate, I want to see areas that have reached their potential and managed to develop even more through the value of authentic experiences and biodiversity. We seek to complement the current tourism development with wellness tourism, which has enormous potential. In the same way, we are forming alliances with the Ministry of Culture to include cultural and gastronomic aspects in the experience.

Victoria Hernandez

Minister, Economy, Industry, and Trade (MEIC)

The simplification of procedures is the main focus under the economic reactivation plan. We have started regulatory improvements on two fronts: institutional support and regulatory analysis. We have already recognized over 2,900 different procedures that could be cut down to 2,500. Second, we have initiated an intervention with the Ministry of Labor to reduce the time to start high-risk businesses from 91 to 30 days and to reduce this number to one for low-risk businesses. Third, we are working on citizen consultation processes at the sectoral and general level with the University of Costa Rica. Fourth, we started with the municipal agenda because the directive obliges the executive power but not the autonomous dependencies. There is interaction in a business model that works with the policy of productive development through support to SMEs, given that only 6.5% of entrepreneurial ventures reach maturity and less than 1% focus on exports. We put in place an inter-institutional plan with other stakeholders to tackle the challenges through financial education and ease of funding. We have consolidated seven integral centers of business development: two in San José and the rest outside.

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