Being dead is not necessarily a barrier to receiving welfare payments from the federal government.
The Secretariat of Social Development (Sedesol) made support payments to 17,674 deceased people in 2016, costing taxpayers almost 66 million pesos (US $3.5 million), according to the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF).
The ASF found that the vast majority of the “unjustified payments” were made to deceased beneficiaries of its Pension Program for the Elderly (PPAM).
Sedesol paid 64.1 million pesos to 16,997 old-age pensioners who had already died, it said.
A further 677 deceased persons were paid 738,000 pesos as part of two temporary employment programs the secretariat operates.
The auditor’s office detected the irregular payments after it requested information from the National Population Registry (Renapo) to corroborate inconsistencies it found in a Sedesol database.
In the database, the ASF discovered that Sedesol didn’t have identity (CURP) or tax (RFC) numbers for some welfare recipients, while in other cases it didn’t even have basic data such as the age and sex of the beneficiaries of its programs.
José Antonio Meade, the presidential candidate for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was Secretary of Social Development until September 2016.
It hasn’t been a good week for the federal secretariat.
Yesterday, a report published in the newspaper Reforma said that the ASF had detected that Sedesol and the Secretariat of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning (Sedatu) diverted more than 1.3 billion pesos through payments to bogus companies.
Rosario Robles, the secretary who headed the departments when the diversions allegedly occurred, strongly rejected the accusations made by Reforma.
The ASF also found irregularities in another federal agency during its revision of the 2016 public accounts.
It questioned why the National Institute of Physical Infrastructure for Education (Inifed) has not completed rebuilding and repair work on 629 schools that were affected by natural disasters in Guerrero in 2013 and 2014 despite the National Infrastructure Fund (Fonden) authorizing more than 2.6 billion pesos to complete the work.
The ASF also found that Inifed failed to install 8,000 drinking fountains in public schools during the 2016-17 school year.
Consequently, the agency will have to return 782.5 million pesos (almost US $42 million) to the public purse, the ASF said.
Source: El Universal (sp)