A little over a year after the project called “Costa Rica Flows” began and carefully analyzing the results displayed It is important to make some observations on the subject and ask ourselves where our country is flowing. This, within the context of the above previously by the author and in particular considering the serious economic situation that our country is going through and with it a large part of the population.
Vision of the crisis: as we have mentioned previously the crisis situation in which our country finds itself, before the Pandemic and during it, is seen in a very different way by the population. It is as if there are two Costa Rica.
For a part of the population the crisis does not seem to be so significant. This is because their income (from salary, pension or business income not affected by the Pandemic) has not been affected. For this reason, for this population, the situation is not so serious and the current situation is interpreted as “temporary”.
For another part of the population, which does not have a fixed or stable income (because they are unemployed, work informally, or because their businesses are highly vulnerable to the economic situation), the situation is very serious and serious, with the aggravating factor that already It is a long time accumulated and that, still, the “light at the end of the tunnel” is not seen.
Since there is a large majority of the population (at least half) that is going through a very serious situation and that the State itself also has a very serious fiscal problem, it is clear to conclude that the country is in a socio-economic situation very serious and that requires a deep and comprehensive solution.
Therefore, the search for solutions to reactivate the economy of the country has to be very clear about this vision of the crisis and consider it very seriously, create solutions that are truly proportional to it.
It is very important not to create false expectations. Like, for example, saying that we can solve all our problems with the exploitation of hydrocarbons or metallic mining of unproven and nonexistent deposits. Doing so is highly counterproductive and can further affect the governance of our country.
Costa Rica flows: this project aims to contribute to the economic reactivation of the country through a process of streamlining the process of permits or authorizations that are required to undertake or develop productive activities. It is financed, to a large extent, by the CRUSA Foundation and has an executive decree that declares it of public interest.
The objective set for the project is key to the extent that, as we have indicated, it is of enormous importance to promote an accelerated and powerful socio-environmentally sustainable development for the country.
Costa Rica has resources and potential for this. However, the biggest problem it has is the paperwork (or paperwork) that is so complicated and full of requirements that it is almost impossible to predict how long it may take and cost to start executing a certain investment and development project. What is known is that it is not easy and that time is measured in years. Under these conditions, it is practically impossible to promote a rapid productive reactivation of the country. Hence the importance of making Costa Rica flow.
However, when the detail of the scope proposed to the referred project is reviewed, we can only be disappointed. It turns out that the project managers themselves recognize that in the country there are about 300 paperwork processes that need to be improved, but the project will only attend, in two years, 25 of those processes, that is, 8% of the total. An insignificant amount.
Of all these 300 processes there is at least 50, whose comprehensive and substantial improvement is vital. Most of them refer to environmental issues in a broad sense. However, when the processes that are being served by the project are reviewed, only one of them is being managed. It deals with all the permitting and technical authorization processes that the Costa Rican Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers must issue.
Thus, from the perspective of the Costa Rica “flows” Project, it would take more than 20 years to attend to all the processes that have to be improved and a significant economic investment (more than 10 billion) to achieve it. Thus, a substantial flaw is detected in the approach that we believe should be thoroughly reviewed.
On the other hand, from an environmental point of view, it is also questionable that it is an Association of Private Entrepreneurs (Horizonte +) and not technical experts who are trying to fix the complex ankylosing process that affects our country.
We say that “from the environmental point of view”, to the extent that the process of improving the paperwork should be developed with sound environmental and social criteria, in such a way that it does not provoke doubts in the environmental and social sectors and make them think that the business sector is playing a role of “judge and party” to regulate for its “own benefit”.
It is because of situations like these that paradoxical conflicts arise such as the non-ratification of the Escazú Agreement. Precisely because a deep distrust arises between the sectors and leads them to take polarized positions. Something that does not benefit the country at all and that is resolved by bringing transparency where today there is a certain degree of opacity.
Solution and future: the conjunctural situation of the country is absolutely extraordinary and therefore, a proportional solution is required. Only in this way can a future of socioeconomic progress be guaranteed, which, indispensable, must be environmentally sustainable. It is our criterion that, towards that course we are not heading. We need to do much more.
We are urged to move towards what we call a Comprehensive Environmental Permit (PAI) that uses all the available technological potential and based on an automated system based on artificial intelligence (AI) and on intelligent and absolutely transparent and objective environmental information. We must clarify that, although some question the use of AI, we cannot deny that it is the future and that the developed world is moving in that direction. Joining the OECD pushes and accelerates us in that direction.
An efficient and complete system of well-developed and controlled algorithms can be much more efficient and effective in speeding up the process than a complicated permit system that requires many human decisions and, as we have seen with the case of “La Cochinilla” , it can become so deeply corrupted that it can jeopardize the institutional integrity of an entire country.
We need to move in a better planned direction and with clearer objectives. We cannot afford to put off any longer something that we should have started to correct many years ago.
Costa Rica has the potential to achieve a transparent and effective EPI that truly activates socio-environmentally sustainable development and investment. We just have to do it, because the tools already exist and are available.
Allan Astorga Gättgens