Public Finances

Title XIII Public Finances

Chapter I
The Budget of the Republic

Article 176

The ordinary budget of the Republic encompasses all probable revenues and all authorized expenditures of the public administration during the fiscal year. In no case may the amount of budgetary expenditures exceed that of probable revenues.

The Municipal Governments and autonomous institutions shall observe the foregoing rules when issuing their budgets.
The budget of the Republic shall be issued for a period of one year, from the first day of January to the thirty-first day of December.

Article 177

The Executive Branch shall prepare the ordinary budget through a specialized department, the head of which shall be appointed by the President of the Republic for a term of six years.

This Department shall have authority to reduce or suppress any items in the proposed budgets drawn up by the Cabinet Ministers, the Legislative Assembly, the Supreme Court of Justice and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

In the event of any conflict, the President of the Republic shall make the final decision. The expenditures budgeted by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for suffrage purposes cannot be objected by Department to which this article refers.

The budget shall allocate to the Judicial Branch an amount of no less than six percent of the ordinary income estimated for the fiscal year. However, when this amount is greater than the sum required to cover the basic needs budgeted by said Branch, said Department shall designate the difference as excess revenue, together with a plan for additional expenditure, in order that the Legislative Assembly may take the appropriate measures.

In order to obtain comprehensive social security coverage and to fully guarantee the payment of the State contribution, both as the State and as employer, sufficient revenues shall be allocated to the Costa Rican Social Security Administration, duly calculated to satisfy the current and future needs of the Institution.

If a deficit occurs as a result of insufficient revenues, the State shall assume this obligation, for which the Executive Branch shall include in the next budget the appropriate amount considered by said institution as necessary to cover the total State payments.

The Executive Branch shall prepare for each fiscal year the proposed extraordinary budgets, for the expenditure of revenues derived from the use of public credit or from any other extraordinary source.
(As amended by Law No. 2345, May 20, 1959, and Law No. 2738, May 12, 1961.)

Article 178

The proposed ordinary budget shall be submitted to the Legislative Assembly by the Executive Branch not later than the first day of September of each year and the Budget Law shall be finally enacted before the thirtieth day of November of the same year.

Article 179

The Assembly may not increase the expenditures budgeted by the Executive Branch unless it also provides for new revenues to be collected, upon prior opinion of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic as to the fiscal effectiveness thereof.

Article 180

The regular and extraordinary budgets constitute the limit of the action by Public Powers in the use and disposal of State funds, and they may be amended only by laws proposed by the Executive Branch.

Any proposed amendment that implies an increase in or the creation of expenditures shall be subject to the terms of the foregoing article.

However, when the Assembly is in recess, the Executive Branch may alter the intended use of an authorized item or open additional credits, but only to meet urgent or unforeseen necessities in the event of war, internal commotion or public calamity. In such cases, the Office of the Comptroller may not withhold approval of expenditures so ordered and the respective Decree shall imply the convocation of the Legislative Assembly to special sessions to act upon it.

Article 181

The Executive Branch shall submit to the Office of the Comptroller the liquidation of the regular and any extraordinary budgets, not later than the first day of March following expiration of the year in question. The Office of the Comptroller shall submit it to the Assembly, together with its opinion, not later than the next first day of May. The final approval or disapproval of the items corresponds to the Legislative Assembly.

Article 182

Contracts for performance of public works entered into by State Branches, Municipal Governments and autonomous institutions, purchases made with funds of those entities, and sales or leases of their property shall be carried out by means of bidding proceedings, in accordance with the provisions of law governing the amount involved.

Chapter II
The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic

Article 183

The Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic is an auxiliary institution of the Legislative Assembly in its surveillance of the Public Finances; but it has full functional and administrative independence in the performance of its duties.

A Comptroller and an Assistant Comptroller shall be in charge of the Comptrollers Office. Both officials shall be appointed by the Legislative Assembly for a term of eight years, two years after the commencement of a presidential term. They can be reelected indefinitely, enjoying the immunities and prerogatives of the members of the Supreme Branches.

The Comptroller and the Assistant Comptroller are responsible to the Assembly for the performance of their duties and may be removed by it by a vote of no less than two-thirds of the entire membership, if their unfitness or misconduct is demonstrated in the proceedings conducted for the purpose.

Article 184

The powers and duties of the Comptroller's Office are:
  1. To supervise the execution and liquidation of the ordinary and extraordinary budgets of the Republic;
  2. No order of payment against State funds shall be issued unless the respective expenditure has been countersigned by the Comptroller's Office; and there shall be no obligation for the State unless it has been so countersigned;
  3. To examine and approve or disapprove the budgets of the Municipal Governments and the autonomous institutions, and supervise their execution and liquidation;
  4. To submit a report on an annual basis to the Legislative Assembly, at its first regular session, covering the preceding fiscal year, including a detail of the work of the Comptroller and any opinions or suggestions he may deem necessary for a better management of public funds;
  5. To examine, audit and close the accounts of State institutions and public officials;
  6. Any other powers vested in it by this Constitution or the laws.
Chapter III
The National Treasury

Article 185

The National Treasury is the center of operations for all national revenue offices. This is the only body legally empowered to pay out funds on behalf of the State and to receive any amounts that, as revenues or for any other reason, have to enter to the National Treasury.

Article 186

National Treasurer and an Assistant Treasurer shall be in charge of the Treasury. Both officials are independent in the performance of their duties, which shall be regulated by law. They are appointed by the Government Council for a term of four years, and may be removed only for due cause.

Article 187

Any expenditure by the National Treasury, not related to the wages of the permanent personnel of the Public Administration, duly included in the budget, shall be published in the Official Journal.
Those expenditures that for very special reasons the Government Council believes should not be published shall be exempted from this formality, but in this event, the Legislative Assembly and the Comptroller's Office shall be given notice confidentially without delay.