QCOSTARICA – “I will not leave (the presidency) as a retiree; I will take my pension when I am entitled to it, at 65”. With these words, Carlos Alvarado Quesada reiterated that he will not touch the presidential pension to which he is entitled, a right enjoyed by all former presidents.
His decision, says the outgoing president, will save the state about 2 billion colones over the next 23 years.
At 42 – the youngest in Costa Rican history – it will be more than two decades before he is eligible to retire under the Disability, Old Age and Death (IVM) of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).
The ¢2 billion figure is based on an estimate made by the Casa Presidencial, in present value money, of the average monthly payment of ¢3.8 million colones to former presidents. This is a special non-contributory scheme, meaning that presidents do not contribute to receive the benefit, but rather an entitlement that they earn with their investiture.
“We’re talking about the fact that in those 23 years, I’d be giving up about ¢2 billion in present value. I need to work to live, like most Costa Ricans, and there is nothing wrong with that, you know that and you can see it in the statements to the Comptroller’s Office”.
In an interview with La Nación, Alvarado referenced comments that his decision is irresponsible and has populist overtones.
“I am not irresponsible, because if I die, or if I become ill or disabled, the pension will go to Gabriel (Quesada, his son) and Claudia (Doubles, outgoing first lady). I came here to do my job, I came here to serve the country,” Alvarado said.
Although Alvarado forfeited his pension, his first-degree relatives’ right of survivorship remains intact.
Alvarado argued that he made this decision without hesitation, given his age and the financial situation of the country and all Costa Ricans.
“I’ll retire when I’m 65,” Alvarado said.