Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some indicators of corruption

Yesterday I was reading Mural, one of the better local dailies (there are five here), and I came upon this startling statistic: In the past 18 years, Mexico´s Secretary of Public Affairs has levied $3.3 billion dollars in fines (that´s correct, 40 billion pesos, or $3.3 billion dollars) against government officials for corruption.

That amounts to about $190 million dollars in fines a year against corrupt officials.

But the government has actually collected less than 1% of those fines. Why is the collection rate so bad? According to the article, the appeals process can be dragged out indefinitely, and, if it appears there will be a final resolution against the appelant in the case, he merely unloads all his assets so the fine can´t be collected. Perfectly legal.

Unbid contracts represent 97% of the total

On the same front page was a story about the handling of public contracts under the mayor of Guadalajara, Aristóteles Sandoval, who was recently elected on an anti-corruption platform.

As it turns out, the new regime has a worse record than the previous one in terms of awarding contracts not subject to a public bidding process. Under Sandoval, direct contract awards, made by the head of public works, represent 70% of total contracts, and another 27% are awarded to invited bidders.

Evidently the rules that require public bidding are open to interpretation. Juan Carlos Uranga, secretary of public works, says he alone decides who gets contract awards and who gets invited to make proposals for these unbid contracts. "And there is nothing untoward about it," he says.

The previous administration had 13% of contracts open to public bid, compared to this administration´s 3%.

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