LatinNews Daily - 03 May 2024

In brief: Costa Rica’s Chaves announces ‘multi-issue’ referendum

* Costa Rica’s President Rodrigo Chaves has announced plans to hold a popular referendum on various issues citing “enormous obstruction [ism]” on the part of the opposition-controlled 57-member unicameral legislature to his legislative proposals, with just 18 of the 73 legislative initiatives he had put forward converted into laws. He said that as a result he was looking at holding a referendum so that citizens could decide on whether to approve laws “indispensable to the country’s future”.  He said that issues which could be subject to popular vote include: amending legislation related to working hours, “harmonisation” of the electricity market, and the sale of state-owned banks Banco Internacional de Costa Rica (Bicsa) and the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR), among other things. He made his comments in a speech presenting the balance sheet of his second year in office in which he also trumpeted various economic achievements. These include 5.3% GDP growth in 2023, a primary surplus of 1.6% of GDP “for the first time since 2008”, which he said had enabled a reduction in public debt from 63% of GDP in 2022 to 61% in 2023; a reduction in unemployment from 11% to 7.8% over the past year, a reduction in the poverty rate from 23% in 2022 to 21.8% in 2023, “historic” foreign direct investment (FDI) of over US$3.9bn last year, and upgrades by international credit ratings agencies such as Moody’s, Fitch, and Standard & Poor’s.

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