Saturday, March 2, 2024

Anti-graft organization slams youth employment program for corruption

An anti-graft group claims in a new report that the federal government’s youth employment program is sullied by corruption.

The enrollment records of the “Youths Building the Future” apprenticeship scheme contain implausible information that cannot be verified, Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) said in the report ¿Cuántos son, donde están, qué hacen? (How many are they, where are they, what do they do?)

MCCI said that it detected the probable existence of “phantom” work centers and discrepancies between the number of persons enrolled in the employment scheme and the number who are actually undertaking training.

State-based federal officials involved in the implementation of the program made similar claims earlier this month.

MCCI said that the “Youths Building the Future” register added new beneficiaries and employers at a constant daily rate even on weekends, national holidays and during vacation periods.

“Virtually every day, the same number of men and women, of the same educational levels and ages, were enrolled,” the non-governmental organization said. “A register that grows without variation contains improbable information.”

The Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS), which is responsible for the employment program, said this month that it had reached its goal of giving 3,600-peso (US $180) monthly scholarships to one million young people.

More than 150,000 workplaces are participating in the scheme, the STPS said.

But MCCI questioned the figures, stating in its report that the employment program register only contains very limited information about the employers.

Tax numbers and the addresses of participating businesses, among other basic information, are not listed, MCCI said, and in some cases only generic or first names are used for employers, such as “federal deputy,” “auto repair shop” and “María.”

“. . . It’s information that is absolutely incomplete and information that can’t be verified . . . The register . . . is not very transparent and therefore there can be no accountability,” MCCI executive president María Amparo Casar said at the presentation of the report.

In Mexico City, the group discovered that it was impossible to find any information at all about 53% of the 5,439 registered employers it reviewed.

In addition, 140 businesses contacted by MCCI said that they hadn’t joined the apprenticeship program even though they appeared in the register, 214 said that they registered but haven’t received apprentices and 136 companies said that they did receive scholarship holders but they no longer work with them.

Only 1,413 companies contacted by MCCI – 26% of the total reviewed – were able to prove that they are currently providing employment and training to young apprentices.

Some of the young people enrolled in “Youths Building the Future” have direct family ties with their employer and others have received threats of being excluded from the program after requesting a change of employer, MCCI said.

Despite the claims of irregularities in the register, and the STPS assertion that the scheme reached its employment target, Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity said that only 32% of the budget allocated to the program has been used.

“By the end of 2019, there will have been under-spending of 15.641 billion pesos [US $781.7 million], 39% of the total of 40 billion pesos approved for the program. That money could be reassigned discretionally by the executive,” the report said.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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