The new secretary of culture has vowed to cut “superfluous” spending by federal cultural agencies.
During the six-year term of the previous federal government, organizations funded by the Secretariat of Culture, including the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), spent an average of 214.4 million pesos (US $11.1 million) a year on parties and events, Mother’s Day gifts, snacks and meals, flowers, bottled water, hired cars, parking, prizes and other non-essential activities and items.
During a meeting with the culture committee of the lower house of Congress in December, Alejandra Frausto guaranteed that under the government led by President López Obrador there would be savings on such “superfluous” expenses.
Days later, the Secretariat of Culture’s social communication director criticized the excessive spending in a post on his personal Facebook page, according to a report published today by the newspaper El Universal.
Antonio Martínez wrote that bottled water was costing the secretariat 600,000 pesos (US $31,200) a year, an amount which he said was enough to “provide a municipal library with a collection” of books.
“A little over 30 million pesos [US $1.6 million]” is allocated to hiring cars for “high-ranking officials,” he wrote, charging that was enough for the annual “conservation and management of the Tula [Hidalgo] archaeological zone.”
However, putting an end to excessive spending that is not directly related to cultural agencies’ core business could be difficult as many of the perks provided to employees are mandated by union agreements.
The Secretariat of Culture has not yet specified which expenses will be terminated.
The federal department was allocated just under 12.9 billion pesos (US $671.2 million) in the government’s 2019 budget, a cut of just over 5% compared to its 2018 funding.
However, in a December 17 statement, the secretariat said that the amount was enough, explaining that it would eliminate “burdensome expenses . . . redirect spending to priority areas and implement a strong policy of creation, development and cultural promotion.”
Source: El Universal (sp)