Country Program Evaluation: Costa Rica (2011-2014)

Jan 2015
This document presents the results of the evaluation of the Bank's country program with Costa Rica for the period 2011-2014. This is the fourth time the Office of Evaluation and Oversight (OVE) has provided an independent review of the Bank's program with Costa Rica. The first Country Program Evaluation (CPE) in 2003 covered the period 1990-2001, during which an open trade model was consolidated, leading to substantial foreign direct investment. The second CPE covered the period 2002-2006, in which the country was heavily exposed to external shocks. The third and most recent evaluation, covering 2007-2011, highlighted the difficulty of forging linkages between the mostdynamic sectors and the rest of the economy, and drew attention to the State's dwindling capacity to finance investments as a result of its low tax burden and heavy expenditure rigidities.
The evaluation was conducted in accordance with the OVE mandate (document RE-238 corr.) and the Protocol for Country Program Evaluations (document RE-348-2). Its main purposes are to facilitate accountability and identify lessons learned that can enhance the Bank's future program. The evaluation took into account the new country strategy paper models (document GN-2468-6) developed by Management, the most significant practical effects of which were: (i) the de facto separation of the formulation
of the country strategy and the programming of operations; (ii) the new emphasis on sector notes; and (iii) the updating of the strategy results matrix and programming documents.
The production of this document involved interviews with some 200 people, including the Bank's main counterpart (the Ministry of Finance); sector-level executing units and the staff responsible for them at the ministerial level; as well as civil society organizations, academics, representatives of international organizations in Costa Rica, and the Bank's Representative and Country Office and headquarters staff. OVE is particularly grateful to the participants in the 22 workshops held in the country, and also to the Regional Manager's Office, the Bank's staff in the Country Office, and the people and authorities of Costa Rica for their generous hospitality.
To fulfill the goal of analyzing the Bank's work during this strategy cycle, OVE reviewed a portfolio of all loans and technical cooperation programs approved between 2011 and 2014, as well as those approved earlier but mostly executed during this period. The lessons learned from this CPE should to serve as a useful input not only when preparing the next country strategy with Costa Rica, but also for the Bank to further enhance its service to similar middle-income countries, where access to alternative sources of
financing presents new opportunities and challenges for the Bank.