ICE freed of ‘budget surplus’ regulation

20 Dec 2002

Costa Rica’s telecoms and electric power monopoly ICE has been freed from an obligation to record annual profits, after the constitutional oversight committee of the country’s Congress voted in favour of the decision. Until now, ICE has had to run ‘budget surpluses’ under a law which states that its profits must be given to government bonds, instead of being invested in the company’s own operations. Although the new ruling does not give ICE total autonomy from the state, it means that the operator will be able to invest more money into its telecoms networks and provide better services for its customers; in September, ICE was forced to suspend a plan to deploy 450,000 new fixed lines because of insufficient funds after running a USD12.9 million budget deficit for the first half of the year. Members of the ICE board have, however, expressed mixed reactions to the ruling, with the vice president, Hernan Bravo, and the workers union being against the decision, and the engineers union expressing a more optimistic view.

Costa Rica