Wordsmith.org: Today's Word

Commentary, news, new ideas, links, quote of the day and much more

Today's Quote:

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

VoIP, Skype in Costa Rica = Jail Time?

Use Skype and go to jail? In one nation, it could happen by ZDNet's Russell Shaw -- The Central American nation of Costa Rica has long been seen as an oasis of democracy and freedom in a turbulent and sometimes repressive region.That's why it is absolutely puzzling to note that nation's monopoly phone service ICE Instituto Costarricense de Electricidadhas proposed a regulation for VoIP services that would - in at TechWeb's interpretation [...]

My daughter is using Skype and loves it. She wanted me to sign up, too, so that we could talk using the Internet buy actually hear each other's voices. Then I saw the above article in ZDNet.

There are those Costa Ricans who would like the Caribbean Free Trade Pack to go through so that their country would be forced to accept competition. It would mean changing the 1948 Constitution, though. That's a big move. And what would happen to all the government employees of ICE, RACSA, MOPT, and AyA? All of these government monopoly service providers would find it almost impossible to compete. Wouldn't it be better for Costa Rica to begin making the necessary improvements and slowly allowing in competition so that the people here would have a chance to adjust?

One of Costa Rica's biggest problems is that it doesn't have a really good tax structure and tax collection system. The first priority, I should think, would be to implement a modernization of the tax structure. An income tax if fairly applied is a progressive system compared to the sales and import taxes now used which are regressive systems. Everyone in the country already has a unique ID #. Everyone over 18 is issued a cedula or ID card. This is used for the Social Security system as well as for other forms of identification. The law requires everyone to carry their cedulas with them at all times. Tourists, of course, do not have cedulas. They must use their passports as ID's. All wages must now be reported by the employer to the Caja (Social Security Institute) on a monthly basis. Social Security taxes are paid by the employer monthly. The same system could be used to collect an income tax from individuals. The biggest problem would be taxing the owners of large companies and farms. They, as the employers, do not have to show their own income and this great gap would have to be closed. Since all the "politicos" are from wealthy "owner" families, there would certainly be a very large hurdle to overcome.

Another move the government could make in Costa Rica now is to start experimenting with alternative forms of energy. If Costa Rica could produce enough electricity, say, from wind, tidal, geothermal, and solar sources, it could then sell this electricity to other countries such as Panama and Nicaragua. Coffee farmers in Costa Rica are having a very hard time now because coffee prices have plummeted on the international market. The government could subsidize these farmers to switch over to production of another crop to be used in biomass fuel production with the government owning and operating the actual production facilities. Everyone would benefit.

Ah, well! Ramblings from a Gringa about what she'd like to see happen in her adopted country of Costa Rica will never get to the ears of anyone in power.

In any case, I don't see Costa Rica becoming a competitor in the world market place successfully in the near future. So, Heidi, I'm sorry, but I don't think I can use Skype just yet . . .

No comments:

About Me

My photo
I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

Blog Archive