Costa Rica Approves New Tax to Fight Crime

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Costa Rica’s government approved a plan this week to raise some $70 million per year in extra funding to fight organized crime in that country.

Among other pieces of the legislation, the measure, as reported by Reuters, will ask most businesses to chip in $300 per year. The funds will help equip police with intelligence gathering equipment, uniforms and other equipment, the news agency says.

As InSight Crime has reported, Central America pays some of the lowest taxes, as measured by a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, in the world, according to 2009 World Bank figures. Costa Rica pays just under 15 percent of the GDP. Most of Europe pays closer to 25 percent.

InSight Crime’s Analysis

The region has no one to pay for what is needed to fight the burgeoning problem of organized crime. Through the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) [See InSight Crime’s CARSI profile], the United States gives a paltry $12 million per nation, which is barely enough to train and equip the numerous core units these nations need in their police, military and attorney generals’ offices.

Like Colombia, Central America’s governments must realize that it is their responsibility to raise the necessary funds to increase intelligence, professionalize their forces and strengthen their justice systems. Costa Rica appears to be trying to lead the way.

But it is a long road. As detailed in a three part series in InSight Crime, the country is facing increasingly sophisticated gangs with international tentacles.

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