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Costa Rica: Fecon considers it urgent to tax pineapple exports

The Federation for the Conservation of Nature (Fecon) said it was urgent to tax pineapple exports, in the framework of the discussion of a bill for the strengthening of public finances.

According to Fecon, "While the National Unity government insists on taxing the basic basket, polluting industries continue to be exonerated, receive tax benefits, and evade environmental responsibilities. A clear example of this is the pineapple sector."

According to data from the Executive Secretary of Agricultural Sector Planning (Sepsa) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, fresh pineapple exports generated USD $953,166,000 last year, which accounts for 19.5% of Costa Rica's agricultural exports. Meanwhile, banana exports amounted to USD $1,042,171,000.

There is an important difference between the banana and the pineapple industry: the Costa Rican pineapple sector is exempt from the export tax while the banana is taxed. Bananas have a tax set at USD $1.00 per box of 40 pounds of exported fruit.

"If the State applied a similar tax to the pineapple millionaires, the Ministry of Finance would obtain USD $ 162.590.000 per year. That is the equivalent of ¢ 91,000 million, which is more than 10% of the fiscal gap that Costa Rica has. It would also exceed the income that the State would get by taxing the Basic Basket. The pineapple export tax would generate 1.5 times more than taxing staple foods, such as milk, bread, beans, rice, etc.," Fecon stated.

According to Fecon, the government’s fiscal plan is regressive, neoliberal, and it isn’t based on a criterion of fiscal justice. That’s why they propose that each person pay taxes according to the amount of wealth they have and that they contribute in fiscal matters when their activity entails risks to the environment, public health and the infrastructure of the neighboring communities of the plantations.

According to Fecon, "Contaminating pineapple companies continue to go unpunished while the State covers their impacts with public money. The cost of water sources contaminated with bromacil is covered with the Aqueduct and Sewer tax. An example of this is that the pineapple companies didn’t chip in for the new aqueduct of Milano de Siquirres, which was inaugurated in previous weeks at a cost of ¢ 374.480 million.”

Environmentalists say that a pineapple export tax would not solve the country’s environmental crisis, but that it would be a step in the right direction in terms of environmental and fiscal justice.


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