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Everything posted by induna

  1. Congrats. La Migra in the States can be a real pain. I have never known anyone who has had a good experience, even when the outcome was good. Your patience has been rewarded. So now you all are a TicoGringo and a GringaTica.
  2. Currently most of the electric companies in Costa Rica have three tiers of pricing. One up to 50kwhrs, another from 50-250kwhrs, and another above 250kwhrs. The more you use, the higher the rate. There is some variation on this scheme, and some areas have smart meters that allow for different prices at different times of the day. In many parts of the country heat and AC are unnecessary. In my smallish house, we have no AC, no heat, and no hot water other than electric showers. We have a newish, efficient fridge and washer, and we have and use an electric dryer. We use about 180kwhrs a month and pay about 13 mil or so. If you use AC, which you probably will at the beach, you will go way over 250kwhrs and will have a large electric bill. Above 250kwhrs, the rate is around 170 colones per kwhr, or nearly ¢30. This is certainly more than double what you pay in the States. This is why electric bills at the beach are high.
  3. Maybe James should buy one of Newman's tuk-tuks and keep it as a backup?
  4. And lawsuits here are decided by judges who determine damages based on technical information and not on emotion. Juries are much more likely to assign very high damages.
  5. Yes, it is. I'm just saying that some people seem to be implying that having a car in an SA protects the driver from liability. It doesn't. Insurance is relatively cheap. I believe we pay a bit over 10 mil a month for 400 million in third party injury protection and 60 million in third party property damage. That is a lot of coverage here. I don't carry coverage for theft/collision. Where I live theft is not an issue, and since Costa Rica is a strict fault jurisdiction, I will only have to pay to repair my car if the accident is my fault, or the other driver is uninsured. My car isn't worth much, any?, more than the 6 million coverage that the marchamo provides. So even if the other driver has the minimum coverage I should get my money back. I'm willing to self insure for damage to my car that is my fault.
  6. However, if you as the driver of the vehicle are found liable, your personal assets, including those held by SAs in which you own shares, can be attached to pay damages. Simply because a vehicle is owned by a Persona Jurídica doesn't absolve the driver of said vehicle of all criminal and civil responsibility. If you're drunk and run over a family you're going to jail. If you're on your phone, cross the center line and cause an accident, you will be liable.
  7. There are many different kinds of Bonos de Vivienda available through many agencies and for many different types of needy populations. It is very unlikely that there is any significant amount of information on these in English. Why would there be? Many of these Bonos are administered through third parties and every town has agencies advertising these services. Maybe a place to start, but be wary. Or just go straight to the Municipalidad and ask a lot of questions. That's more legwork, but maybe a better approach. Or go to your local CenCenai or Pani and ask what they know...
  8. Why not talk to the Municipalidad of Zarcero? They should have all the records from that time.
  9. It was declared unconstitutional only for procedural errors in the way the law was promulgated. The tax itself presented no constitutional problems. Therefore once the procedural errors were corrected by the asemblea, the tax was reinstated. The asemblea took advantage of the fact that they had to revisit the law to make some sensible changes. La Nación and El Financiero are your friends
  10. Income Property?

    Do you currently, or have you ever, lived here?
  11. Hmm, I think if I were selling a property worth millions of dollars, I'd consider a plane ticket and hotel to meet the prospective buyer, no matter where in the world they lived, a very cheap investment. Of course since I do not, nor shall ever, own such a property it's all academic.
  12. But I think you all are forgetting that they can't take their guns with them to either Costa Rica or Canada, so those countries are both out. I think Mexico better be careful. Perhaps they'll try to annex Sonora or Chihuahua? Los Filibusteros Part II.
  13. It is still working its way through the asemblea, but I believe it will ultimately pass. The current proposal will reduce the tax on inactive SAs to around 60 mil, and will create a sliding fee for active SAs based on their revenues. Since almost all the proceeds go to the police, and there is a significant crime wave caused by narcos in the GAM, there is a lot of pressure to pass it. JMHO.
  14. Gringo y soberbio se encuentran juntos frecuentemente, pero, gracias a dios, no siempre.
  15. Eleanor, Yes, the fee to renounce is $2,350. They get you coming and going.
  16. The new leadership in the asamblea has put the bill to reinstate the impuestos sobre personas jurídicas on a fast track. The good news is that the tax on inactive SAs will go down to 65 mil or so. We'll see.
  17. The thing about Armies is that if you have one, it's very difficult not to use it, even when it really isn't a good idea. I wonder how our ongoing conflict with Nicaragua over the Isla Calero would be playing out if Costa Rica also had a military. The pressure on chief executives to show that they are "strong" and "decisive" can be almost unbearable, leading to predictably tragic outcomes. It takes a lot of courage and foresight to deny oneself such a tempting tool. ¡Saludos a Don Pepe y el pueblo costarricense!
  18. Interdicting drugs destined for the US and enforcing US drug policy. The Coast Guard isn't doing this for CR's benefit.
  19. Living on the border with Panamá, the difference between a militarized state like Panamá and Costa Rica couldn't be clearer. Well done Costa Rica! I am very happy to know the that none of the young people who I see every day will have to die on the battlefield, nor have their parents been irrevocably changed by War. In a time in which we clearly seem to have forgotten the horrible lessons of the last century, Costa Rica is clear example that we can do things differently.
  20. I agree. The only things I buy in Paso Canoas are things I can't buy locally. The local Gollo is a big favorite of mine, not to mention the ferretería. The only reason I mentioned Canoas is because that is where I go to find the hard to find because it is less than an hour away. Plus the road from San Vito to Ciudad Neily, which is on the way, has got to be one of the prettiest in Costa Rica, and that is saying something. If I ever tried to move to the GAM my wife would toss me in a heart beat and inform Migración that I'm no longer her dependent Anyhow, to stay on topic, I'm sure the new mall will be great for those who like malls and what they have to offer.
  21. Paso Canoas is definitely an acquired taste, but it beats the heck out of going to Chepe!
  22. One of the things I really like about living in the boonies is the total lack of anything approaching a "big box" store or a mall. I don't even know where the nearest Walmart is, but it is certainly several hours away. Heck, the closest Maxi-Palí is in Rio Claro, which is an hour away, and that's also the nearest the traffic light. To each his own. If I really need to shop for something I can't find in town, I go to Paso Canoas, which is about the polar opposite of Multi Plaza Escazú, but it is always an adventure. I wish the Alajualenses good luck with their new mall, and I'm glad I'm not there.
  23. This website is using a self-signed SSL certificate. Since the certificate is not issued by a publicly recognized certificate authority like Verisign, which costs money, your browsers will warn you that the certificate is not trusted, or some such (they tend to dumb-down the error messages now-a-days). The site is almost certainly safe. It is unclear to me why the State Department feels it is necessary to encrypt such a site since it contains no personal or confidential information.
  24. OK, I guess I'm in a pedantic mood today so I'm going to try to provide a little context to help understand why the Colón is valued as it is against the Dollar, and why the central bank of Costa Rica (BCCR) has the policies it does. It is not my purpose or intent to make any value judgements nor to further an ideological agenda. I merely want to try to communicate the facts, as I understand them, as concisely as I can. Recent History Not long before the most recent financial crisis in the US, Costa Rica switched from a system of mini-devaluations in which the Colón was devalued with respect to the Dollar everyday, to a system of Bandas Cambiarias (Exchange Bands) in which the Colón was allowed to float between a pre-set lower and upper limit. The lower limit was 500 and the upper limit increased slightly everyday. (Note that the BCCR uses the rate on MONEX to determine the value of the Colón.) I believe the exchange rate nearly reached 600 before the crisis hit. From 2008 until January-Februrary 2014, the exhange rate was pegged at the lower band of 500, and the BCCR was forced to make frequent interventions by buying large amounts of Dollars, thus reducing the supply of the Dollars in the CR economy and increasing their price. If the bank had not intervened, it is quite possible that the Dollar would have sunk to 400, or even lower, which would have been disastrous for the export sector of CR. The primary reason for the weakness of the Dollar in CR was because the US Federal Reserve maintained a policy of aggressively devaluing the Dollar and basically giving money free to US banks. This kept interest rates in the US very low making Dollars cheap for everybody and making foreign currencies offering higher interest rate, like the Colón more and more attractive. The combination of low interest rates in dollars and high interest rates colones encouraged a significant influx of dollars into the CR economy from two major sources: 1. foreign investors attracted to higher interest rates, and 2. Ticos borrowing money in dollars to buy homes and cars since the interest was much lower and the Colón so stable at 500. The BCCR took several steps to reduce the potentially destabilizing influx of dollars through these channels, by both placing an absolute limit on the amount of money banks were allowed to loan in dollars to people whose income was in colones, and by implementing a tax on short-term, non-resident capital investments. During the same period the CR government was facing ever increasing deficits. If these deficits were financed by CR banks, it would inevitably lead to a drastic increase in interest rates as the central government began to compete with private business and individuals for colones to borrow. Tis would force the BCCR to print more money, leading to high inflation, etc., ad nauseum. So, under the Chincilla administration the general assembly passed a law allowing the government to issue $1 billion in bonds each year for four years to finance the debt. Although these bonds were called 'eurobonos', they were in fact issued and paid dollars. The Eurobonos worked very well (2015 is the last year for them). Inflation has been kept relatively low - less than 5% for three years and this year probably less than 2% - and interest rates in colones have been stable and reasonable. However, the downside of the bonds is that they significantly increased the supply of dollars in the CR, putting further negative pressure on the exchange rate and strengthening the Colón. 2014 to Today In early 2014 there was a sudden, unexpected change in the exchange rate of about 15% with the Dollar reaching over 570 colones for a brief period. This effectively ended system of Exchange Bands, as the BCCR decided that it need to intervene to contain wild fluctuations in the exchange rate. So CR entered a de facto, and now de jure, system of Administered Floatation in which the Colón has no fixed upper or lower limit, but the BCCR will intervene to damp short-term fluctuations in the exchange rate while allowing the Colón to find its 'natural' level against the Dollar in the medium and long term. Since about April of 2014, the BCCR has been very successful in achieving its goals. The exchange rate has been steady at around 540. It is important to note, however, that the same forces that made the the Colón so strong in 2008 are still in play. The BCCR has had to intervene several times since 2014 to keep the exchange rate from dropping. There is an excess of dollars in the CR economy because the FED is still giving away free money, the local deficit is still being financed in dollars, and the Dollar is still a very attractive currency to borrow for individuals and businesses. Virtually every economist, banker, and politician in CR understands that the Colón is both too strong to be healthy for the export sector, and that, barring another economic catastrophe in the US, the value of the Dollar must and should increase. However, a rapid and substantial increase in the value of the Dollar would have some very bad effects. The major reason for this is that are a large number of individuals and businesses which have outstanding loans in dollars but whose incomes are exclusively in colones. If the Dollar becomes 10% more valuable, their loans become 10% more expensive. The potential consequences are obvious. So the BCCR is playing a waiting game. They are trying to control the amount of debt held in dollars while waiting for the FED to finally raise interest rates, putting what they hope will be a gradual upward pressure on the exchange rate that will allow the Colón to be slowly devalued while not driving those who have loans in dollars into bankruptcy. The Future It is probably inevitable that the exchange will rise in the medium to long term. It should. The question is how much, how fast, and with what consequences. The major problem is the increasing amount of public debt and how to finance it. This is the last time the government has authorized itself to issue bonds. If they have to turn to local financial system to finance the debt in 2016 it will almost certainly raise interest rates in colones significantly and probably make the Colón weaker. It will also almost certainly be inflationary as the BCCR has to increase the money supply. The government has already approached China about assuming some of its debt at favorable rates. What the FED will do, and what and how drastic an effect it will have, are unknown. It is the sleeping tiger. That's how I understand the current situation. The Colón is where it is due to many structural factors both internal and external to the CR economy. It is not being propped up, quite the opposite. The government and financial sectors do not want a strong Colón since it puts CR at a competitive disadvantage. President Solis' current statements on the exchange rate were made in the context of a debate brought up recently by the general assembly over whether or not the BCCR should actively intervene to significantly devalue the Colón. The have decided not to do that. Factual corrections and additions are always welcome.

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