Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee has approved a $465 million loan to finance a 107 kilometer road expansion from San Jose to the Caribbean province of Limon. While most agree the road expansion is needed and will help improve business and tourism in the province of Limon ,there are many that are raising questions about Costa Rica rushing to a decision.
The first major red flag to many local professional associations is that the loan is coming from the Chinese company that has been contracted to perform the work, the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). Beyond that the project was approved with out preliminary blue prints, any price and cost studies to back the sticker price, a list and cost of materials and with out any figures on the amount of private land that will be expropriated to complete the expansion.
If that wasn’t enough the Citizen Action Party (PAC) lawmaker Manrique Oviedo has made claims that $465 million budget is at least $165 million overvalued.
While there are still several hurdles to pass before the bill becomes a law, the fact that that such a questionable loan could make it this far into the legislation with such a shaky foundation has caused several professional and private sector chambers to voice their opinion against the loan and the process leading up to the decision.
Will this be enough to stop the bill from becoming law or at least raise enough questions that the company contracted for the project will be forced to answer? We will have to wait to see. At least for now the questions are being asked in a public forum, which in itself is a step in the right direction.