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Rising Prices Hurt the Pocketbook

By Irina Guzmán

First the price of gas went up, next the price of bus tickets and finally the government added a 13% tax on products in the basic food basket. It’s time to take out the calculator and grab the pocketbook because everything is going up in price and your bill could reach an unforeseen amount. 

Fuel prices experienced the biggest hike in the last years as four adjustments that the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos (ARESEP- Public Services Regulatory Authority) had pending went into effect.  Super gasoline increased by 109 colones (about 22 cents) per liter, regular by 107 colones (about 21 cents) and diesel by 70 colones (14 cents). 

Continuing with bus tickets, ARESEP increased tariffs for public transportation at the national level by 13.8%. Among those affected is route 503, which connects San Jose to Nicoya. Bus users now have to pay 1335 colones ($2.67) more, making the cost of a ticket 4780 colones ($9.56).   

In addition, as of April 30, the Ministerio de Hacienda (finance ministry) published the first decree of a 13% tax on 90 products that belonged to the common basic food basket, but since many of these products are used by everyone, complaints were heard by various sectors until a new list of products was elaborated. 

After a few days of charging the new tax, the government modified the decree that would have added a 13% sales tax to flour and wheat bread, milk, beans packaged in sealed plastic, honey, salt, canned tuna, sausages and cheese. However the 13% tax still applies to cuts of meat that the finance ministry considers “fine” like sirloin and steak fillets, as well as tuna filet, codfish and salmon.

With all of these increases, the reactions of people are not surprising (see box “What do you think of the new food tax?”), especially coming into low season when income tends to be less. 


What do you think of the new food tax?

Antonio Méndez Montero, Supermercado La Paloma, Nosara


"The problem of the 13% that the government just imposed is a matter of how the tax package wasn’t approved….  The government has to do something because if not the crisis is going to intensify more…, but I think it has to begin from the government downward." 

Kathy María Solana Leiva, Musmani en Nicoya Centro


"It was done and at the same time changed again because the president said to… It is difficult now to buy those products because it gets more expensive all the time and now people go for whatever is the cheapest." 

Alfredo Montoya, Nicoya


"This is a question of the mental state of the Hacienda and the new finance minister to evaluate all these aspects.  We all have to pay but it’s just a little tale that the one who has more should pay more and that the one who has less should pay less with this; it doesn’t work because the wealthy of Costa Rica aren’t affected in the least by the 13%.  They are always going to eat sirloin."

Luis Fernando Hernadez Carrillo, Nicoya


"I see it as too bad because I am a pirate taxi driver and besides the rise in gasoline, which has had three increases, nothing has gone down.  Besides that they raise products 13% and it comes out harder for the economy.  Everything is hard.” 

Jessica Matarrita Aleman, Nosara


“Now the situation is very difficult because it’s not the season to raise [the price of] things. At least for us, we pay rent, light, water, then for food; so it’s very little what we buy for the house since many things are going up a lot, and more so with little ones. Now one can’t buy like before.”


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