By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
British citizens have voted to leave the
European Union, but Costa Rica is working hard
to affiliate the country with yet another
international organization which seeks to
change profoundly life here.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development is not new to Costa Ricans. The
unelected organization has been a strong
promoter of the central government’s plans to
raise taxes. In fact, the organization is on
record suggesting that the country needs to
raise much more taxes.
The Paris-based organization says it provides
a setting where governments can compare policy
experiences, seek answers to common problems,
identify good practice and coordinate domestic
and international policies. But it also keeps
a scorecard for dozens of performance factors.
The United States, which has been a member for
decades says that the organization is a unique
forum where the governments of 34 democracies
with market economies work with each other, as
well as with more than 70 non-member economies
to promote economic growth, prosperity, and
sustainable development. The organization grew
out of the Marshall Fund that helped rebuild
In order to enter the realm of most First
World nations, Costa Rica has to make
substantial changes. No topic is too small. In
the next few months experts from the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development will visit Costa Rica to fill out
what amounts to a report card on the nation’s
digital policy and consumers.
That was agreed upon Friday in Cancún, México,
when the Costa Rican science and economics
ministers discussed innovation and social
prosperity regarding the Internet.
The gathering generated a 14-point declaration
that promotes digital commerce, online privacy
and social inclusion for those who might not
be connected now to the Internet. In addition
to Costa Rica, 41 countries were involved.
To some extent the organization is promoting a
European-style society with a strong central
government. Internet privacy and laws that
allow individuals to delete unflattering
online comments have raised major legal issues
The organization’s goals for Costa Rica were
laid out by its secretary general in February
when he visited. He is economist Ángel Gurría
He stressed the need for action on government
finances and noted that the average
governmental income for organization member
countries was 34 percent of their gross
domestic product. Even with tax proposals of
the central government, the average for Costa
Rica would only be just 20 percent, he said.
He also noted that 83 percent of the
government’s income already was allocated by
Gurría also said that in Costa Rica, the top
10 percent brings in 32 times the income of
the 10 percent poorest. The average for
organization member states is that the top 10
percent brings in just 10 times that of the 10
percent poorest, he added.
Presidencial archive photo
Luis Guillermo Solís and Ángel Gurría
display a report on Costa Rica that was
delivered in February.
more investment in education, noting that only 40 percent of the
work force has finished high school and that
in an international math test, Costa Rica
scored 56th of 64 countries.
He called for distributing resources more
equitably to combat school dropouts. He also
urged the inclusion of more women in the work
force, noting that just half of the eligible
women are working. So he urged more public
child care and early child education.
Gurría noted that 40 percent of the country’s
employees work off the books in the so-called
informal sector. His solution was to make
registering a company easier and reducing
non-salary labor costs.
He also called for reducing obstacles to
competition. He noted that Costa Rican
companies show low productivity and that for a
more solid and strong economy more competition
He also called for much more investment
in infrastructure, noting the quality of
ports, rail lines, highways and airports.
Th organization has called for in the past
direct payments to reduce the income gap.
Some critics have called the organization
unAmerica, in part because it seemed to
support a global tax levied by the United
Nations. Others support what is called tax
competition in which countries offer lower
taxes to attract companies and industries. The
organization seeks to equalize tax and has
promoted a black list of countries that are
considered tax havens.
Some U.S. commentators also have objected to
the $70 million a year their government
donates to the organization. Finances is not a
big issue for Costa Rica. Nine countries
provide 66 percent of the organization’s
budget of $365 million. Costa Rica might end
up paying 1 percent or less a year.
For Costa Rica, the effort to join the
organization seems mainly motivated by the
prestige of being a member among mostly First