Slow Bureaucratic Processes Causing Problems for Costa Rica Businesses

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    The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – The lack of training of staff regarding customer service standards, the absence of a real digitalization system and the fact that banks do not coordinate with each other are the main reasons, according to representatives of the various chambers, that the country continues being flooded in a world of formalities and excessive regulations.

    And according to a study by the Chamber of Industries of Costa Rica (ICRC), called “Business Outlook and Rating Factors of the Costa Rican Sector of Competitiveness 2014 “, 49.5% of the companies surveyed in March announced the “formalities and permits” as the main reasons which affect them negatively, complaints are recurring between businessmen and industries for years.

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    Regarding importance ranking, this issue moves from position 8 in 2013 to 7 in 2014. The activities in which the highest percentage of companies indicate it, are: “Chemicals” (74%), “plastic products” (67%) and “food and beverages” (55%).

    According to the president of the group, Juan Ramon Rivera, the major formalities that affect businesses are related to product registration regarding the Ministry of Health, where although in some instances the period has been reduced to 4-5 months, there are circumstances in which the period stays between eight months to a year.

    Also, there are problems in the National Animal Health Service (SENASA) where procedures last from a year to a year and a half.

    “This reduces competitiveness”

    The president of the Chamber of Commerce of Costa Rica, Francisco Llobet, mentioned that reports of delays are widespread and include records of drugs, cosmetics, foods, natural products, biomedical equipment and material, among others.

    “We also have groundless rejection reports and poor implementation of existing legislation. However, the main criticism of the chamber is oriented towards documentary control, further including unnecessary requirements, which we consider does not guarantee the safety of consumers”, he emphasizes.

    The country must watch out – says Llobet – for the best international regulatory practices and look for their implementation.

    Director of Scientific Affairs and Regulatory of the Costa Rican Chamber of Food Industry, Monica Elizondo, mentioned that there is a lack of vision and political will in some public institutions such as the Ministry of Health to modernize the processes of food control, as other more developed countries have made it, but without hindering trade.

    Process Timelines

    The president of the Costa Rican Chamber of Construction, William Carazo, declared that they have three stages in the process of starting a project.

    In the previous formalities, one includes all letters of authorization, which must be given to public institutions such as alignments, height permissions, availability letters, use of municipal land, construction of treatment plants when applied, environmental viability, which one requests from the National Environmental technician service (Setena). They are quite tedious and there is no security of how long it takes, it may be a few months, but it could be years.

    The second stage includes the review and approval of plans. This procedure theoretically should last 30 days.

    Finally, one meets the municipal permit, where neither a resolving deadline nor preconditions exist, everything depends on the municipality or project.

    The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

    San Jose, Costa Rica

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