The ministry's offices in Mexico City. The ministry's offices in Mexico City.

Austerity at Education Ministry means leather furniture and bar fridges

Funding request for new furniture was made in December, but ministry says it was unauthorized

The Ministry of Education (SEP) is planning a remodeling of its offices that appears to contrast sharply with President López Obrador’s philosophy of austerity in government.

In a request submitted in December 2019 and obtained by the newspaper El Universal, the ministry requested 1.4 million pesos (US $64,078) for leather furniture, mahogany desks and bar refrigerators.

Revamping the office is essential to improving the ministry’s image, the request explains. 

The ministry wants 10 mahogany desks valued at 133,580 pesos, 10 leather office chairs worth 50,000 pesos , and an entire living room set in black leather for 51,500 pesos. Five refrigerators, one industrial refrigerator and five bar refrigerators are requested for a total of 84,703 pesos. In addition, a gas stove, a bread oven and an icemaker were among the kitchen items listed.

The ministry is also requesting the purchase of a 42-inch HD television for 77,942 pesos, a 750-watt speaker for 49,018 pesos and a UR4D receiver for a wireless microphone system for 122,026 pesos among other electronic equipment. 

The ministry’s request said that after an inventory of office furniture and supplies was conducted, it was determined that some of the property had deteriorated with age and had already undergone attempts at repair. It argued that it would cost about the same to repair the furniture and property as it would to replace it when labor and materials are figured in. The SEP’s technology is also obsolete, the ministry said, and often incompatible with more modern devices.

On Friday, the ministry said the request did not have the authorization of the minister. “They want to create a scandal where there isn’t one,” the ministry said on Twitter, stating that it continually practices austerity.

Last month the president asked federal bureaucrats to share their computers because no more would be bought due to corruption in the purchasing department. He urged public officials to stop thinking about their own interests and tackle the larger issues the country is facing. 

“Imagine those who fought in other times for freedom, justice, democracy and sovereignty,” López Obrador declared. “Were they waiting to get their computers in order to fight and transform?”

Source: El Universal (sp)

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