Costa Rica faces rare labour strike

The Asian Age - - World -

San Jose, Costa Rica, Sept. 15: Thou­sands march­ing in streets. Flam­ing bar­ri­cades. Clashes be­tween demon­stra­tors and riot po­lice in dark­ened streets. A semi- truck hol­lowed out by fire.

Costa Rica has been rocked this week by the kind of protests rarely seen in the coun­try in com­par­i­son with its more tu­mul­tuous Cen­tral Amer­i­can neigh­bours. It comes dur­ing a labour strike that went into its fifth day on Fri­day with no ap­par­ent end in sight.

Spurred by calls from pub­lic sec­tor unions, demon­stra­tors protested again out­side the pres­i­den­tial res­i­dence and block­aded roads in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try to de­mand Pres­i­dent Car­los Al­varado scrap a pro­posed fis­cal re­form be­fore congress that in­cludes new taxes.

Costa Rica’s gov­ern­ment is strug­gling with a deficit es­ti­mated at 7.1 per cent of GDP this year, which has pushed up the pub­lic debt load and in­creased its need for rev­enue. Al­varado is propos­ing to im­ple­ment a value added tax to re­place the ex­ist­ing sales tax and ex­pand it other taxes.

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