Costa Rica eyes further $400 mln loan from World Bank

SAN JOSE Tue Nov 6, 2012 7:26pm EST

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SAN JOSE Nov 6 (Reuters) - Costa Rica is negotiating a $400 million loan from the World Bank to pay back a debt with the country's social security institute, President Laura Chinchilla said on Tuesday.

Chinchilla made the announcement at a meeting with World Bank officials to sign a smaller loan of $200 million to support four public universities.

"Education and health have become top financing and debt priorities for the administration", Chinchilla said.

Costa Rica has universal healthcare and the social security institute runs many of the country's hospitals and provides health services to those who are not privately insured.

Chinchilla said the institute use the debt payment to invest in infrastructure and the improvement of services. The smaller loan signed on Tuesday will help public universities invest in technology, research, and boost enrolment.

Costa Rica, a country of 4.5 million people known for its tourist beaches and coffee exports, is struggling to contain a ballooning fiscal deficit.

Last year the fiscal deficit reached 4.4 percent of gross domestic product, one of the highest in Latin America and is narrowly valued at more than 5 percent this year.

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