Date: Mon, 18 May 98 09:20:51 CDT
/** reg.nicaragua: 57.0 **/
New Costa Rican President Promises Privatization
Weekly News Update on the Americas, issue #433, 17 May 1998
On May 8, lawyer and economist Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echeverria of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) was sworn in as president of Costa Rica, replacing Jose Maria Figueres Olsen of the National Liberation Party (PLN). Rodriguez will serve through 2002. His two vice presidents are Astrid Fischel, who also serves as Minister of Culture; and Elizabeth Odio, Minister of the Environment. The ministries of Foreign Trade, Economy, and Science and Technology have been combined to form one so-called super-ministry, headed by entrepreneur Samuel Guzowski.
Rodriguez has said he plans to open the country up to more trade and privatize many state-run institutions, including the government's two banks and the national liquor production plant. He also intends to privatize the social security system and the telephone company. The unions for the electrical energy workers and social security workers voiced their opposition to the privatizations, and said they will pressure for a law to strengthen the state-run institutions. [Agencia Informativa Pulsar 5/8/98, 5/13/98; La Nacion (Costa Rica) 5/9/98, 5/10/98; La Prensa (Honduras) 5/9/98 from AFP]