Wednesday, October 10, 2007

PAC pledges not to block CAFTA's implementation in Congress

By Esteban Oviedo and Irene Vizcaino

San Jose (La Nacion) - The Citizens Action Party (PAC), the main opposition group in Congress, pledged today in a meeting with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias not to block the parallel laws that need to be approved prior to the implementation of CAFTA.

The 13 parallel laws, also knows as the "Implementation Agenda," are necessary for CAFTA to take effect in the country and must be approved by March 1, 2008, otherwise the country would be left out of the agreement, even though a majority of Costa Ricans (51.6 percent) gave their approval to CAFTA on the first-ever referendum held in Costa Rica.

President Arias and his brother Rodrigo Arias (Presidency Minister), met today in the Presidential House in Zapote with Elizabeth Fonseca and Rafael Madrigal (PAC representatives in Congress).

After the meeting, which took place between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Rodrigo Arias announced PAC's intention of allowing the passage of the parallel laws, which include the opening of the telecommunications industry (right now a government monopoly).

During the meeting, Fonseca said: "They (some groups that support CAFTA and some of the press) have tried to make us look like a group of obstructionists, but I want to make it clear, that's not our nature."

"The people have already made their choice, whether right or wrong, but we still believe that CAFTA is harmful to our country," Fonseca said. "Therefore, our proposal is to take a look at the Implementation Agenda and we will try to improve it, but not to block it, thats is something else, we will try to have it ready on time."

The Government has pledged to send PAC a chronogram of the pending legislative work, while the PAC will send the Government a proposal of modifications to the Implementation Agenda so that the projects to be approved can have just the "minimum requirements that CAFTA demands."

Rodrigo Arias said that "it's all positive," as he announced that the Government and the PAC also managed to reach agreements on several other projects of common interest such as the modifications to the laws of transit and immigration.

The two groups also agreed to work together to request a loan to the Interamerican Development Bank with the goal of improving the country's competitiveness, and the creation of a tax to luxury homes.

Translated by Uri Ridelman

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