Clifford Lee, 31, has a 2011 Kia Sportage and recently paid his annual circulation fee for about ¢16,490. This was not an error or a misunderstanding. This is what the owners of private vehicles -excluding pick ups, double cabins or trucks – pay in Panama.
To be able to circulate one must pay $29 per year and that is regardless of the year or the value of the vehicle. You can have a Lamborghini or a Yaris, the amount is the same. In other municipalities, the amount is even lower,”
said the Panamanian engineer.
But in Costa Rica the picture is different: the most economical vehicles, in terms of traffic, are those whose fiscal value is ¢430,000 and pay close to ¢63,348, according to data from the National Insurance Institute (INS). That is to say, if the cheapest vehicle brand is taken as a point of reference and compared with what is paid in Panama, the national price is almost four times (3.84) more expensive than that of the neighboring country.
In Nicaragua, the situation is even more advantageous for the driver. According to Ana Parra, administrator of Nicaraguan companies, the circulation permit for light vehicles ranges from 100 to 150 córdobas, that is, from $3.4 to $5.35.
As in Panama, neither the fiscal value nor the year of the vehicle is taken into consideration.
The difference in prices of circulation permits in the region has to do with several factors.
In Costa Rica, the highest payment is the vehicle’s property tax, calculated based on the car’s fiscal value, as well as the compulsory insurance, items that are not included in neighboring countries. Without these amounts, the price of the permit would be lower, although it would not be as low as in Panama or Nicaragua.
Despite the fact that a significant portion of the annual revenue collected from the permit goes to the coffers of the National Road Council (Conavi), Costa Rica continues to occupy the worst positions in terms of the quality of the national road network.
In the 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Index, prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the country ranked 123 globally (out of 137), and obtained a score of 2.6 out of 7.