LN WEEKLY REVIEW

Costa Rica, Viernes 15 de agosto de 2008

/WEEKLY REVIEW

Weekly review

Production slows down

In June, the production of Costa Rica increased by only 2.6 percent, as compared to the same month in 2007, the Central Bank disclosed. This is the slowest year on year (in each month as compared to the same month in the preceding year) increase recorded since March 2002 and reinforces the slowing down which began last year. The data are provided by the Monthly Index of Economic Activity, an indicator that allows measuring the variation of the physical production of goods and services. The variation rate of this indicator in the last 12 months (it shows the variation of the average in the preceding 12 months) increased by 6 percent in June, displaying also a slowing-down trend. The Central Bank had already foreseen the slower rhythm of production and in July lowered its estimate of the growth in production for this year from 3.8 percent to 3.3 percent.

$850 million loan

The Bank of Inter-American Development (BID) agreed to lend Costa Rica $850 million to build or improve roads, bicycle paths, the new international airport in the Costa Rican South Pacific, and the Metropolitan Electric Railroad, among other works. The loan has to be approved by the congressional, a fact that prompted president Oscar Arias to request from the deputies to the Legislative Assembly to approve it at the soonest possible. He pointed out that the country has waited for a long time to improve infrastructure, thus the opportunity has to be take proper advantage of. The Government of Costa Rica has to supplement the loan with a $200-million counterpart, thus taking the overall amount to $1,050 million. The first installment, for $300 million and $75 million as the Costa Rican counterpart, would be used to improve 500 kilometers of roads.

Illegal fishing

The Ministry of the Environment publicly pledged extra efforts to fight illegal fishing at Cocos Island, the national park which was also declared World Heritage by the United Nations. New funds to reinforce vigilance will be allocated, particularly on boats. The Ministry announced the arrival of one vessel sponsored by the French Fund for the Environment.

Airport improvement

The Technical Council of Civic Aviation allocated $20 million to improve landing strips and set up fences at seven airports. Four local terminals, Nosara, Puerto Jimenez, Parismina and Tortuguero, and the international ones at Limon, Pavas and Liberia will benefit from the program. On the other hand, the Civil Aviation Bureau will receive this month the master plan for the new international airport in the South Pacific, which will be located at Sierpe, Osa, and whose construction will be launched next year.

Marina project filed

The project to develop a marina at Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean, was filed. The facility was to be developed by Grupo Caribeño Internacional whose chairman, Jan Kalina, said that the $40-million, 100-berth marina was objected by several organizations, “a minority from outside Puerto Viejo”. However, he pointed out, the firm might renew the project some time in the future.

Blood donation

The British Embassy in San Jose developed a campaign to stimulate blood donation in Costa Rica. The effort is aimed at minimizing the shortage of the vital fluid at local hospitals. Ambassador Tom Kennedy was prompted by information disclosed by the daily La Nación and 39 people attended his invitation. The assistant to Ambassador Kennedy, Edith Salgado said that the Embassy will include the donation in its yearly schedule.

Financial analysis

International financial analysis firm Amba Research is strengthening its operations in Costa Rica. The company settled here in 2006 and started operating with 10 analysts, a number which has now grown to 70, as a result of an increased demand of its services, consisting in analyses to guide those wishing to invest at Wall Street. Now it carries out financial research for nine of the 15 largest investment banks and for 70 hedge funds. Costa Rican analysts carry out part or whole financial research that enables, say, a bank to advise its customers whether an investment is or isn’t timely.

Tico processors

The famous socialization website Facebook will operate thanks to processors that Intel assembles in Costa Rica. Intel announced that it struck an agreement to optimize Facebook’s hardware and software, since this company’s datacenter is growing. In a press release, it is pointed out that Facebook plans to set up a non-specified number (it is said there are going to be in the thousands) of servers with Intel Xeon processors during 2009. Ninety-nine percent of Intel’s processors for servers are assembled and tested in Costa Rica.

Bribery

Allegedly, former Argentine president Carlos Menem collected $16 million in bribes from German giant Siemens and part of that payment was made through Pepcon of Costa Rica, according to a document quoted by several German media. The case is handled by a Munich Court and the involvement of Costa Rica surfaced in the investigation of the alleged Siemens corruption. Pepcon would be a bogus firm, set up for handling precisely such irregular business.

Recycling

Of the plastic waste from banana, cantaloupe and decoration plant farms throughout the country, some 85 percent is recycled by Recyplant, a Costa Rican firm established 14 years ago in Siquirres, Limon. The facility processes some 6,000 tons a year. The materials treated include the bags and strings used in banana plantations, not only from Costa Rica but also from Panama and Guatemala. Also processed is the plastic used to protect cantaloupes on the ground as well as that from the greenhouses in the Poas and Cartago areas.

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