Government

Costa Rica Is Moving Forward in the Production of Energy from Clean Resources

Geothermal EnergyMost of the Costa Rican energy comes from hydroelectric plants throughout the country. Only about 3% of the energy produced per year in Costa Rica does not come from clean and renewable resources. Geothermal energy is the second largest type of energy produced in Costa Rica. However, the production of this type of energy is only 12,84%.

In fact, Costa Rica has the capacity to produce 875 MW per year of geothermal energy. However, to date, it is only producing 195 MW – 22% of what it is capable. ICE (Costa Rican Electrical Institute) is expecting this situation to change by year 2024. ICE is expecting to be fully operating 3 more geothermal plants by that year. All of them located in the Guanacaste, Costa Rica. These projects are Borinquen I, Borinquen II and Pailas II. As a matter of fact, this last project started its construction in 2013 and should be in full operation in 2019.

There are some advantages when it comes to geothermal energy. First, there is still a lot of room to grow in this type of energy production in Costa Rica. Second, the generation of geothermal energy is not affected by climatic conditions in the surrounding areas, which becomes a concern with energy produced by water or wind power.

On the negative side, most of the locations where geothermal energy can be produced are located inside Costa Rican national parks, so ICE cannot exploit those areas. There is a new law being discussed at the Legislative Assembly in Costa Rica, but it has been stuck for 2 years and there is no certainty on when it will be approved.

ICE is expecting to be able to cover 20% of the electrical energy needs in Costa Rica with geothermal energy by year 2035.

Together, these three projects will provide the country with an additional 165 MW of clean energy to the country. As we mentioned before, Pailas II will be the first of the three projects to start operating in 2019 and it will provide energy for over 130.000 homes.

As for the other 2 projects, ICE is expecting to be fully operating, one in 2023 and the other in 2024, and provide energy to about 200.000 homes. The total investment for all three projects is going to be about $1.011 million USD; $337 million USD per project.

Of Course, ICE is going to need financing to complete these projects. That’s why the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), ICE and the Treasury Ministry are planning to sign a credit agreement in February of 2017 for an amount of $558 million, with a term of 40 years, and an interest rate of 0,6%. The loan will be divided as follows: $234 million for Borinquen I, $157 million for Borinquen II, and $167 million for Pailas II. The other funds to finance the project will come from ICE’s own resources, the European Investment Bank and the Inter-american Development Bank (BID).

ICE is expecting to have a geothermal energy production capacity of 690 MW per year, once all three plants are fully operating. However, this production capacity will depend on the institution’s capacity of exploiting geothermal energy out of the National Parks.

According to ICE, geothermal energy is the second most affordable energy produced in the country. It also reduces the CO2 emissions in the country. That is another reason why it is important to exploit all the available resources for this type of energy, to help Costa Rica become even more green!

Costa Rica Is Fighting Against Tobacco and its Effects on Public Health

TobaccoIn 2012, Costa Rican Government signed and implemented Law 9028, commonly known as Anti-Tobacco Law. Since its implementation, one person per day has been sanctioned for non-compliance with the law. According to the Health Ministry, they are sanctioning both, individuals and companies.

Health Ministry indicates that over 1,000 people have been charged with penalty fees as high as $8,000. Although this higher fees are not as common today as they were at the beginning.

One of the main goals that this law was trying to reach, was to protect non-smokers from the negative effects of cigarette smoke, and that is being accomplished. In this regard, people can report public transportation operators, such as taxi and bus drivers, for non-compliance through the Health Ministry website (www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr) and local Ministry offices all throughout the country.

Anyone who doesn´t comply with the Anti-tobacco law, will be charged about $80 and the penalty will stay in the individual´s record for up to 4 years.

Another advantages of this law is that the new taxes on tobacco products, allow the government to have additional resources to implement new and better control and prevention programs on tobacco uses. It prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors under 18 years of age. It forbids the selling of tobacco products on certain business types. Also, it prohibits publicity of tobacco products and brands, and forced all the tobacco producers to change the packaging on all of their products.

In less than five years, there are less cigarettes being sold in Costa Rica. Also, the amount of adult smokers from almost 500,000 in 2014 to around 300,000 in 2015. Additionally, the government is trying to reduce the amount spend on the treatment of diseases caused by cigarette smoke. In 2014, the Costa Rican medical authority spend over $127 million.

Original article taken from La Prensa Libre.

What´s Next for UBER in Costa Rica?

BA37D41EFCUBER has been operating in Costa Rica for one year. Yes, one year! Despite the fact that many want to see it come to a close. Others, have tried to block the app. And yet, others have reacted with violence against UBER drivers. The business is still running and becoming stronger.

Humber Pacheco, UBER manager in Costa Rica, gave and interview to La Republica, which we are summarizing here.

One of the major improvements UBER has accomplished in Costa Rica, is the opportunity to build small businesses. Some car owners, started with one car but now have several cars operating the business. They stablish schedules and split income with drivers. So, UBER is becoming a job source for those who cannot afford a new car, but are needing a job. Humberto Pacheco, says some of these partners are contacting each other through Facebook Pages and other marketing venues.

However, some drivers complain that their earnings are not as high as it was one year ago. According to Pacheco, this makes sense because the demand at the beginning was much higher than expected. Also, there are a lot more UBER drivers in Costa Rica today than there was one year ago. Despite that, UBER Costa Rica is not planning to limit the number of affiliated drivers or cars that are involved in the business.

Pacheco was clear to specify what UBER goal is. The company is not trying to compete with the official taxi drivers. The company is trying to offer a solution for people not to use their personal car in a regular basis. It is also trying to help the country in reducing the carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the amount of cars that are out on the street every day; and in that way, helping reduce traffic jams in the Central Valley.

One of the main concerns is that, UBER drivers who are working for another UBER Partner in Costa Rica will be exploited, and this will create a similar situation as what happens with taxi drivers in Costa Rica today. However, Pacheco did not offer much details about that and rather said that the market will accommodate itself, and that the laws of offer and demand will dictate what happens in the UBER “labor market”.

The last question was related to government regulation. As of today, UBER is not regulated by any government laws in Costa Rica. Pacheco, said they are open to government regulation because they are a legal company, but that any regulation should always be created to benefit the final consumer and not any company or group.

Costa Rica Is Within the 40% of the Most Developed Countries in the World

costaricaindexmapCosta Rica is a small country, it has less than 5 million people and it is only 19,730 mi2. Despite its size and the small number of inhabitants, Costa Rica is considered medium to high-developed country; in fact, it is among the 40% of countries with the highest development rate. The development observatory of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) came to this conclusion after evaluating 14 global indexes and 394 indicators in which Costa Rica is present.

Among the considered indexes and indicators are those related to happiness, global well-being, and democracy. These helped boost the performance of the country in the international scene.

However, not all the indicators show positive results. Those related to the economic situation and ease of doing business. When it comes to these two indexes Costa Rica needs to pay high priority attention to them. Among the factors that need to be observed are those related to the tax situation and government expense. Once these are solved, the country will be able to move up to a higher development level.

When it comes to the development of social aspects, 65 indicators were analyzed and 3% of them are considered top priority. One of this, to which the country has to pay closer attention to, is the participation of women in the labor market. In Costa Rica, for every 10 men who work, only 6 women do it (60%). However, in countries with higher development indexes this relationship is 9 female workers for every 10 male workers.

Costa Rica is promoted as a green destination, national parks, natural reserves and eco-tourism are among the country´s main attractions. One would expect the country to have high levels of development in environmental matters. However, Costa Rica lost important spots in these areas, mainly due to poor management of sewage waters and a necessity to better protect its oceans.

Although there are some areas in which the country needs to improve, it is important to note that none of the indicators placed the country in the lower levels of development like medium-low, low or very low.

The following table shows some of the social indicators and the level of priority which the government needs to pay to them:

High Medium Low
High school enrollment Rural access to drinkable water sources Death due to contagious diseases
Murder rate Private property rights Infant mortality rate
Internet users Freedom of movement Access to electrical energy
Obesity rate Suicide rate Freedom of press index
Water extraction World class universities Quality of electrical services
Prenatal mortality rate Female schooling age average Life expectancy at birth
Early marriage Education accomplishment inequity Religious freedom

 

The following tables shows some of the environmental index and the level of attention that needs to be paid to them.

High Medium Low
Sewage water treatment Air pollution Environmental risk exposition
Protected sea areas Quality of drinkable water Home air quality
Nitrogen use efficiency Protected land areas Access to sanitation
Nitrogen balance Reduction of protected woods Access to drinkable water
Fish stocks Trends in carbon intensity

Costa Rican Government Will Change Workshifts for Public Employees to Reduce Traffic Jams

presacrHave you been to San Jose, Costa Rica lately? If you have, then you know the traffic jams are becoming border line unbearable. Some 10 years ago rush hour was Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 8:30 am and from 5:00pm to 6:30pm. But that is history past. Now, it seems that rush hour is from 6:00am to 7:00pm. Yes, you guess it right. Rush hour in San Jose is now an all-day event. Some of the main highways around San Jose and major roads inside the city seem like a big parking lot. Sometimes you can sit on traffic for about an hour and you won´t move one mile. Sounds bad? It actually is pretty bad. So much so, that San Jose citizens are starting to look for jobs in beach areas to run away from traffic jams.

As anything that happens in a country, people blame the government for the traffic jams. No, it is not a responsibility of the citizens, their horrible driving ettiquete – which is pretty much non-existent in San Jose – or the fact that there is not a carpooling culture in the country. No, if you ask a “Tico” everything is a reflection of poor government planning and lack of policies to control traffic jams.

Anyways, the government is trying to find out ways to help improve the driving situation in San Jose, and for that reason, it has submitted a decree that allows public employees to start working earlier or finish later on the day. It also opens up the possibility to work more than 8 hours four days a week and have 3 days off. This will be mandatory for employees who work for ministries and autonomous institutions, but it won´t apply to hospitals, emergency services, schools and police departments.

The decree establishes that all institutions will have to change their schedules to start the work day at 6:30am, 8:00am and 9:30am. Another possibility will be to work 10 hours a day, 4 days a week to have an extra day off during the week. An employee who chooses this model can enjoy an additional day off, besides Saturday and Sunday, on either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

One limitation is that every department will need to employee a minimum of 30% of the workforce on every work shift to guarantee that services are appropriately offered. Labor Minister, Carlos Alvarado, said that institutions will have a 30 day period, starting on July 12th, to implement the decree and make the required changes.

The decree will be effective from July 12th to November 30th, 2016. After that date, the government authorities will be able to conduct different studies about the impact of these actions in the traffic jam situation afflicting the metropolitan area.

MOPT (entity in charge of infrastructure and transportation) officials said they are analyzing some other alternatives to help reduce traffic jams in the capital city, but the studies on those areas are being conducted and the necessary actions could be implement later on.

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