SAN JOSE – Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solis begins the last year of his term in office satisfied by the changes he has achieved in areas like the economy and combating poverty, though he still faces the persistent challenge of promoting tax hikes to bring down the deficit.
In an interview with EFE, Solis, who will complete his four-year term on May 8, 2018, said that his government’s National Development Plan has achieved 70 percent of its objectives, but many challenges remain to be resolved during the last 12 months of his administration, particularly on the fiscal side.
The president said he feels “satisfied with these first three years and absolutely committed to resolving whatever comes in the next.”
“According to figures of the annual report that Solis presented to Congress last Wednesday, Costa Rica went from an economic growth of 3.7 percent in 2015 to 4.1 percent in 2016, while poverty declined by 1.2 percent to lower the nation’s overall poverty rate to 20.5 percent.
Last year 10,440 households were lifted out of poverty and 9,700 from extreme poverty, according to the report.
As for the budget deficit, in 2016 it closed at 5.2 percent of GDP, less than the 5.4 percent in 2014 when Solis took office in May of that year. The president said that because of the positive results, there is “a small window of opportunity” to approve the new taxation proposals.
“It’s going to be hard because this is an electoral year and no one likes to talk about taxes,” he said.
Solis believes there is an awareness in his country that if the new taxes are not approved, “all the effort that has been made to successfully lower interest rates, keep the currency strong, guarantee growth and ease the debt, will all be for nothing.”