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Caribbean & Central America - May 2013 (ISSN 1741-4458)

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW: COSTA RICA

OAS contract cancelled: On 23 April President Laura Chinchilla announced she was cancelling the concession granted to OAS for the upgrade and expansion of the San José-San Ramón national highway between the capital and the north central province of Alajuela. Her announcement followed allegations of irregularities surrounding the contract. Earlier that month, a State prosecutor’s office opened an investigation in response to a complaint filed by a local lawyer alleging negligence on the part of the officials who authorised the contract, as well as possible influence-trafficking which took place during the tender process. Civil society groups, who have staged protests against the contract also highlight that Public Works & Transport Minister Pedro Castro had worked as an adviser to the Brazilian firm prior to taking up his current post. The project was also unpopular due to the proposed US$4 toll (each way). The concession of the 58km road had been granted to OAS on 11 March after the public works ministry withdrew the concession from Autopistas del Valle, which in seven years had been unable to raise the necessary funds to carry out the project. OAS had promised to begin the work in six months and complete it within 30 months.

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