Ana Gabriel Zúñiga Aponte, Vice Minister Political Affairs and Citizen Dialogue, Ministry of the Presidency: "With this commitment, we consolidate the transformation towards an Open Government – one of the pillars of the Solis Rivera Administration. We know that infrastructure construction has historically been one of the most opaque and socially conflicting sectors in communities, so we celebrate this step to improve these projects." 

Prior to CoST: Public infrastructure in context

In 2016, Costa Rica’s economy was ranked 52nd globally in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index. At the same time, the country was perceived as one of the top 10 least corrupt countries in the Americas and rose to first position amongst Central American countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Its commitment to transparency was also enshrined in its second Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan (NAP). In fact, Costa Rica was one of the first countries to involve the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the state in the design and implementation of its national open government agenda (OECD, 2016).


Costa Rica Infrastructure Data Scores

However, like many countries in the region and beyond, Costa Rica had seen a severe underinvestment in infrastructure. In 2016, according to Infrastructure Intelligence, the country faced an investment gap of 2.6% GDP in relation to infrastructure needs. Most notably, Costa Rica’s transport infrastructure was ranked 105th out of 140 countries with its quality of roads scoring even lower (WEF, 2016). In addition to investment challenges, bureaucracy and inefficiencies had been highlighted as an impediment to the development of public infrastructure for social and economic growth. 

CoST Costa Rica: How it began

Costa Rica was one of the six participating countries in the 2015 CoST Latin America multi-stakeholder workshop. The Costa Rican participants worked together to explore CoST principles and develop an action plan for infrastructure transparency. Following the workshop, Costa Rica redrafted its ‘Transparent Infrastructure’ commitments under the National Strategy for Open Government (based on Costa Rica’s OGP NAP) to incorporate the learnings from the workshop and align with CoST principles and recommendations.

Participants continued to drive forward the agenda for infrastructure transparency at the national level after the workshop, as highlighted by a blog from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport’s former Vice Minister for Reform, Mauricio Gonzalez, entitled ‘Why Costa Rica needs CoST now’. CoST International Secretariat worked closely with key stakeholders on the ground and in late 2016, Costa Rica submitted a successful application for membership to the CoST Board. 

Representatives at the launch of CoST in Costa Rica

On 27 March 2017, CoST Costa Rica was officially launched at a public ceremony featuring representatives from government, industry and civil society. Committing to strengthening transparency and accountability in public infrastructure, Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría, Vice President of Costa Rica, signed the Memorandum of Understanding with CoST on behalf of Costa Rica.

Other speakers at the event included Ana Gabriel Zúñiga Aponte, Vice Minister Political Affairs and Citizen Dialogue, Ministry of the Presidency, Carlos Villalta Villegas, Minister of Public Works and Transport Christian Portmaan, CoST International Board, Victor Ruiz, Vice President of the Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector, Andrés Araya, Costa Rica Integra Civil Society Organisation.

Costa Rica’s membership to CoST forms part of the country’s plans for OECD accession, bringing its national policies and practices closer to international best policies and practices. 

Costa Rica Scoping Study

The Scoping Study suggests the start of an initial assessment for the implementation work in order to have an approximation to the reality of the construction of public infrastructure. Providing information of other initiatives in transparency, accountability and anti-corruption, evaluating the available information on projects, and generating an overview of civil society organizations and actors in the construction industry are the main objectives of this scoping study. The study was facilitated by the organisation promoting public-private partnerships, ALIARSE, with the collaboration of Deloitte under a subcontracting process.

Working with stakeholders for better value public infrastructure

The CoST Costa Rica Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) provides leadership and direction for the initiative's implementation. With representation from government, industry and civil society, the MSG brings stakeholders together to improve the value, efficiency and effectiveness of public infrastructure delivery. The CoST Costa Rica MSG members are:  
  • Government – Ministry of Public Works and Transport; Ministry of Planning and Economic Policy; Ministry of Finance;
  • Industry – Union of Chambers and Associations of the Private Business Sector, the Chamber of Construction and the National Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations of Costa Rica represent; and;
  • Civil society – Costa Rica Integra; Consumers' Association; Federated College of Engineers and Architects.
The Comptroller General of the Republic, the Ombudsman's Office and the National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models of the University of Costa Rica and The Ministry of the Presidency will serve as Observer members of the MSG. 


Disclosure: Increasing transparency in public infrastructure investment

In its initial implementation, six Costa Rican infrastructure projects have already been identified for inclusion in CoST disclosure processes.These projects included: 

  • Road improvement on Playa Naranjo Paquera, Paquera District, Costa Rica, with an estimated value of $US28 million and financed by Inter-American Development Bank Loan;
  • Extension and rehabilitation of the national route, Cañas Limonal, Cantón Cañas and Abangares, Costa Rica, with an estimated value of $US85 million and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank Loan;
  • Design and construction of the bridge over the Virilla River, Central Region, Costa Rica, with an estimated value of $US8.5 million and financed by CABEI;
  • Design and construction of a separate bridge over the Virilla River, Central Region, Costa Rica, with an estimated value of $US20.5 million and financed by CABEI;
  • Road Improvement to Guacimal – Santa Elena, Monteverde and Guacimal Districts, with an estimated value of $US10 million and financed by CONAVI; and
  • Route improvement to ‘Alto Comte’, Pavón District, Costa Rica, with an estimated value of $US7 million and financed by MOPT, JUDESURE and MUNICIPALIDAD. 
Furthermore, CoST Costa Rica and the Government of Costa Rica are developing a national version of MapaInversiones – the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) open information management platform. As an online disclosure portal, MapaInversiones Costa Rica will allow citizens and other stakeholders to georeference public infrastructure projects for quality, timely and reliable information with CoST Infrastructure Data Standard. From details of service providers to budgets and delivery, MapaInversiones Costa Rica will open up public infrastructure investment and support stakeholders to hold decision-makers to account. 

Citizen engagement: Empowering local communities through infrastructure transparency

CoST Costa Rica is committed to involving citizens in infrastructure governance to create a culture of transparency and strengthen accountability processes. In the short-term, this work focuses on outreach opportunities and fostering connections with other OGP consultation activities. However, in the longer terms, CoST Costa Rica plans to specifically work with indigenous and vulnerable groups. In line with the government’s existing efforts under the International Labour Organization (ILO) 169 Convention to protect the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, this may include incorporating infrastructure works built specifically in indigenous territories in CoST Costa Rica disclosure and assurance activities.


Next steps for CoST Costa Rica

The Multi-Stakeholder Group is working on the annual Work Plan of the initiative, the six projects identified and listed above will feed into the pilot plan. In addition, the MSG established two committees, one of Governance and another one of implementation, in order to elaborate the regulations and the guidelines that will serve as basis for the execution of the initiative in our country.


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Date Published: 19 June 2017
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