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President Arias In Controversy Over  Presidential Vehicle Donation
President Oscar Arias just can't decide on what should be used as a "presidential vehicle" and in his first 100 days in office, this is his third change, using cars lent to him by other government institutions in the face of the bad shape the fleet of cars at Casa Presidencial.

Former presidents Abel Pacheco and Miguel Angel Rodriguez use the silver coloured luxury Lexus that became the symbol for the country's top official. "

On taking office, Arias announced that the Lexus was in poor mechanical condition and opted to use a luxury Kia donated by the Korean government to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, that vehicle may not have suited the lifestyle of the president and recently has come under scrutiny for accepting the use of a Range Rover valued at ¢30 million colones (us$58.000), donated by Motores Británicos to the Ministerio de la Presidencia.

Legislator for the Partido Acción Ciudadana (PAC), Francisco Molina, charges that the president of the Range Roger, Óscar Echeverría Heigold, franchise is listed as debtor to the failed Banco Anglo and Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social (CCSS) some ¢43 million colones in back employer contributions.

"I believe it sends the wrong message that the President (Arias) receives a vehicle as a gift from a person that owes so much money. Mr. Echeverria should be worried about paying his debt to the state and not making gifts to the president," affirmed Molina.

Molina said Arias should give back the luxury car, like at the beginning of his term, ordered that one of the members of the board of directors of Refinería Costarricense de Petróleo (Recope) pay the CCSS what he owes or leave the board.

"The president should send the message that they still owe the Anglo, because all Costa Ricans are still paying the consequences of the bank's failure. He should apply the same ethical standards that apply to all members of the government", said Molina.

Molina added that he believes Arias did not know about the Echavarria debt, but now he has to bow down to the charge made by the PAC and get rid of the Range Rover.

Meanwhile, Mishelle Mitchell, new press chief at Casa Presidencial confirmed the donation and that vehicle was assigned to the president for "official" duty. The former news desk anchor added that the donation was made legally and the president's office is not considering returning the vehicle.


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