-Published: Thursday, October 31, 2019-
President appoints new minister of Finance
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
President Carlos Alvarado Quesada announced Wednesday that Rodrigo Chaves-Robles will be the new minister of Finance.
On Oct. 24, as A.M. Costa Rica reported, Alvarado appointed Rodolfo Cordero-Vargas as the new interim minister of Finance. He took command of the ministry until the successor of former minister Rocio Aguilar was appointed.
The president said that “Rodrigo Chaves will assume his position at the end of November. He is a person who will continue with the routes we have established in fiscal matters, progress and development. ”
Chaves holds a master's degree in economics, a doctorate in applied economics and financial markets and institutions; and Bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Ohio.
“It is a great honor and privilege to have the opportunity to serve Costa Rica. I have received instructions from the president to work on maintaining the stability of the country's public finances and improving the efficiency and quality of public spending, so that it contributes to the generation of prosperity, and that it is distributed among all Costa Ricans,” said Chaves.
According to the government, Chavez has worked with the World Bank where he has done analytical and operational work in more than 45 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia.
Chavez replaces the former minister, Aguilar, who presented her official resignation under a cloud, as A.M. Costa Rica previously reported.
In the case of the former minister, Aguilar's resignation was due to the Comptroller General's recommendation to suspend her from her duties for the next 30 days. The comptroller gave that recommendation based on an allegation of mismanagement of finances and the deficit in the budget that had remained since the previous government of former president Luis Guillermo Solis.
According to Aguilar, her decision was taken to prevent the president from having to execute the comptroller's order and suspend her for 30 days.
"I am not going to put the president in a situation where he had to choose whether I should be suspended and then come back, so I anticipate that and present my irrevocable resignation," said the former minister at a press conference. "I couldn't leave the president in that dilemma."
The former minister said she did not agree with the comptroller's decision because that institution also did not alert the government in time about spending money that was not budgeted and approved by lawmakers.
"She has served the country with distinction. Her hard work was key to stabilize and clean up public finances," said Alvarado at Aguilar's resignation. "I do not agree with the comptroller's resolution, Ms. Rocío has always worked to protect the best interests of the country."
Among the main goals of Aguilar as a Finance minister was the approval of the fiscal reform, the implementation of the value-added tax and the cuts to the government budget.
The sanctions issued by the comptroller were also applied to four more officials, as follow:
- The former Finance minister, Helio Fallas.
- The current director of the Bank of Costa Rica, Julio Espinoza,
- The director of the National Treasury, Marta Cubillo.
- The director of Public Credit, Melvin Jiménez.
The budget shortfall came during the previous government of former president Solis. In April the deputies of the Special Permanent Commission of Income and Public Expenditure approved a report on the investigation of the government’s budget shortfall and said the unbudgeted expenditures were about 900 billion colones (about $1.5 billion).
The deputies asked in their resolution that Solís and Fallas, the former minister of Finance, be banned from holding any public position for four years.
The deputies requested that the report be delivered to the Prosecutor's Office to establish the civil and criminal responsibilities of the seven persons who were investigated.
Jonathan Prendas, a deputy and president of the commission, said there is enough evidence to be able to show the possible illegal acts of both a civil and criminal nature of seven people as follows:
- Former president Solís.
- Former minister of Finance Fallas.
- The now-former minister of Finance, Aguilar.
- Plus four additional officials from the Ministry of Finance, Cubillo, Marjorie Morera, Espinoza, and Melvin Quirós.
In September 2018, former president Solís appeared before the commission of deputies where he said that he was unaware of the shortfall in the budget.
According to former president Solis, "the possibility of raising an extraordinary budget was never raised" by the government advisors.
Former president Solis said his technical financial team worked since February 2017 in the process to prepare an eventual extraordinary budget. However, this process was finished by July 2017, when the new government of Alvarado was already in place.
Solís was the president of Costa Rica from 2014 to 2018. He is a member of the center-left Citizens' Action Party, known as PAC.
Should the new minister Chavez continue with the management of public finances on the same line of former minister Aguilar? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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