A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 144
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                            de Zaguate
SENASA Facebook photo     
A dog at the shelter wanders about in a filthy garbage pile on the facility grounds.
Shelter clashes with SENASA on animal abuses
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dogs with skin rashes, open wounds, malnutrition and poor drinking facilities are some of the images with which the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal justified its inspection in Territorio de Zaguate, a rescue center for stray dogs and animals located in Carrizal de Alajuela.

The arrival of the authorities apparently caused much anger to the owners of the place, who became violent and disrespectful with the visitors, so the latter had to call for help from the Fuerza Pública, according to Bernardo Jaén, general director of the Servicio.

Once inside the place, inspectors report to have found problems in regards the amount of animals, the infrastructure, and the fencing so that animals do not run away.

In regards to the animals, Jaén said many of them are in poor health conditions, undernourished, suffering from tooth problems and the lack of proper care.

“We found evidently sick animals with a deplorable physical condition,” said Jaén. “There is no separation of animals according to their age, health status and temperament, which causes injuries and wounds caused by fights among them.”

“The rescue center doesn't have its own veterinary doctor to provide the required medical care and follow up,” said Jaén. “That's one of the most important requirements to run this type of organization.”

A.M. Costa Rica tried to contact Lya Battle and Álvaro Saumet by making several phone calls on their number listed in their Facebook page. Email was also used but the couple who runs the place did not get back.

However, some communication was provided by their same Facebook page, where they asked President Luis Guillermo Solís to intervene on the Servicio as soon as possible.
The entity claims the institution is not efficient and never addresses complaints. The document also questions why Territorio de Zaguates is being targeted now.
Poor canine
SENASA Facebook photo     
Canine with noticeable eye mucus buildup.

Territorio de Zaguates also claimed in the statement that the government agency does not have an inspection protocol by which the rescue centers should abide and be prepared to comply with.

“They are liars. We say publicize and we are not going to fear their threats,” said Territorio on another Facebook post. “We are not criminals that will remain in the dark as other rescue centers do out of fear.”

“Thousands of complaints for animal abuse are filed by the the Costa Ricans, such as cock and dog fights and they are usually absent,” the document adds. “If it is not for rescue centers as ours, dogs and cats will die in front of their noses and the Servicio wouldn't do a thing."

Jaén replied to these allegations by saying they do have a lot of other inspections to perform on a daily basis and that the Servicio also has to visit butcheries, dairy factories and any place that uses animals for human consumption.

He also added anywhere in the law, the Servicio was created to provide shelter to animals, so the most the it can do is coordinate their welfare among civilian associations to take care of the animals.

“Our aim is not to close the place, but provide them with counseling about how to improve their practices. The last thing we want is to destroy the organizations work,” Jaén added.

When asked if he is thinking about presenting judicial charges against Territorio de Zaguates under the new animal protection law that came into force in June, he said they are not even thinking about it.

Finance ministry calls for backup on fiscal crisis
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance ministry brought in reinforcements from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development in its fight over reforms for the country’s fiscal system.

“Costa Rica is playing with fire,” said Álvaro Pereira, the director for the department of economics at the OECD.

“Without reforms, the country’s fiscal situation would become a threat. It is urgent to clean up the public accounts. Costa Rica has much to lose if the reforms that are currently in congress are not approved.”

According to the Ministerio of Hacienda, the first half of 2017 yielded a primary deficit similar to the previous year at 0.9 percent of gross-domestic-product. Officials did, however, see an increase to 2.4 percent of GDP in June 2017 from 2.2 percent of GDP during June 2016.

Increases in revenue came primarily from tax increases of 35.8 percent for this past month. This is up from 32.2 percent in June 2015. Interest payments show dramatic growth between June 2016 and the end of April 2017. These increased from nine percent to over 21 percent between the two periods.

Pereira previously served as the economic minister for Portugal prior to assuming his position in the OECD.

His conclusions came after a technical analysis of the country’s fiscal situation was presented this past Wednesday to the finance committee members in the Asamblea Legislativa and the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, one of the larger organizations representing employers throughout the country.

“Without fiscal reforms, there is a very high probability that a serious fiscal crisis will unfold in the near future, with disastrous consequences for growth, welfare and social stability in Costa Rica,” Pereira warned in his address to the committee.

“Fast action is needed to put the fiscal situation on a more secure path.”

Ministerio de Hacienda photo       
Álvaro Pereira speaks candidly.

Based on the findings of the OECD, a weak fiscal position limits the ability to respond to any external shocks and natural disasters. Due to the nature of Costa Rica being a small, open economy, that makes their position all the more vulnerable and leaves little room to maneuver to deal with such consequences.

A crisis would then force Costa Rica to make drastic and detrimental cuts and freeze the country’s welfare and pension system, Pereira said. In addition, it could require cuts to the police forces and lead to increases of not only poverty but crime as well triggering a strong reaction from the country’s citizenry.

“We have also reiterated that the debt compromises the development of the country, and that its increasing balance increases the financial cost, limiting social and productive investment,” reiterated Helio Fallas, the first vice president and finance minister. “We are at the limit of indebtedness and the absence of fresh resources to face unavoidable commitments require us to assess emergency measures, in the event of a lack of liquidity.”

The OECD recommended to the country that, in the absence of any new laws, there should be a strict monitoring in the increases of expenditures, salary increases and pensions. The organization also recommended the freezing of seats and modernization of tools for the tax administration to detect any other instances of fraud or evasion.

“While these measures are too small to redirect public finances into a sustainable trend, they will reduce the deficit, improve credibility and demonstrate a willingness to address Costa Rica’s worrying fiscal trends,” the report concludes.

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