The review of the public account of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s first year showed us that the corruption that was going to be swept from top to bottom remained accumulated at the top.
MEXICO CITY (El Financiero) – Much talk and little action. What this first accountability exercise of the disastrous 4T has left us with is one of the worst results in memory for a government. Although the majority’s perception has not yet registered the reality of the data, this administration is headed, if the course is not corrected, to be the most corrupt and opaque in memory. Yesterday, the front pages of several newspapers in the country showed the point with which the Superior Audit Office of the Federation began to unravel the current government.
Disorder and lack of rules delayed the purchase of medicines. The Microcredits for Welfare only achieved 22 percent of their original goal, and there were irregularities in the program “Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro” (Youth Building the Future). Segalmex, the acronym for Seguridad Alimentaria Mexicana, which replaced Diconsa and Liconsa, to use its chains of stores to distribute food to the poorest, hid more than 3 billion pesos that it is not known where they went, causing probable damage to the treasury. The Ministry of Labor gave scholarships even to the dead. In total, 67 billion pesos in federal spending were used irregularly, causing probable asset damage of 43 billion pesos, a little less than what was indicated in the public accounts of the first years of Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto’s government.
The Audit’s findings are implausible for a government whose head has made the fight against corruption the banner of his political career. These first reviews put López Obrador against the wall and show him not only as a President who is not very different from his predecessors but who could even surpass them. There are unheard of observations for a government that claims to be spotless in the first review of its public account. Such as the grants for people who are dead. Sixty-eight beneficiaries of the “Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro” received 482 thousand pesos, except these persons do not exist since they passed away, which adds suspicion López Obrador’s social programs. Many have been questioned for their opacity and lack of follow-up and verification mechanisms. The criticisms, from what was revealed by the congressional auditors, are well-founded.
The program of the so-called “Servants of the nation,” which the Welfare Secretariat manages, works for electoral purposes. They presented economic inconsistencies for more than 561 million pesos during 2019. It is unknown if the people who received those payments exist or were used to divert resources. Within the social programs, the Ministry of Economic delivered more than 2 billion pesos of the Microcredits for Wellbeing program, without knowing how it was designed, promoted, or reached the neediest sectors. No office was created to implement it. Almost one billion additional pesos in salaries have not been documented either. In other words, what we know for now is that this money was either squandered or blown away or was used for other purposes as well.
López Obrador’s three major projects also went underwater. The Dos Bocas refinery, in which he has put all his energy and dismantled Peña Nieto’s energy reform to satisfy his dreams and convictions, failed in its construction. The Ministry of Energy omitted to quantify the cost of construction supervision, environmental impact, and the benefits it would bring as a business, which were not identified based on gasoline and diesel revenues.
The Mayan Train, the product of an old idea from his younger years, presented inconsistencies for 135 million pesos. Fonatur did not clarify at the time and increased the original cost by 16 percent. It is not only costing Mexicans more than 161 billion pesos, but it is at the limit of being a profitable project.
The Santa Lucia Airport lacks a comprehensive transportation and interconnection strategy. The Audit issued 15 recommendations on this project, whose failed planning will lead to a higher cost than calculated. By 2019, the increase was 231 percent-, if what was planned is not addressed. The new airport will cost taxpayers what we never imagined. Suppose the Texcoco airport would be self-financed with air traffic taxes and would be paid by users. In that case, the Santa Lucia airport will be paid by all of us, including that 70 percent of the voter in AMLO’s ridiculous and inadequate consultation to cancel it. So far, we now know, it costs three times more than what López Obrador had said and close to 45 billion pesos more than what Texcoco was going to cost. Throwing it away is the equivalent of shooting yourself in not one but both feet.
Lopez Obrador’s government is very well represented by the Secretary of Public Function, Irma Eréndira Sandoval, responsible for the government’s transparency. Except that it is absolutely obscure and has ordered that no information is to be provided. There was no communication with the auditors and no reports to be delivered to them.
Sandoval and her Secretary of Public Function is the very synthesis of what is happening in this government, which fills its mouth speaking about the fight against corruption, perhaps to hide its own.
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