The disaster relief fund Fonden, one of 109 public trusts to be abolished by the federal government, was used as a “petty cash box” by corrupt officials, President López Obrador claimed Wednesday.
“Why are we going to eliminate Fonden? Because there is sufficient evidence to assert that it was a kind of petty cash box for officials; well, not so petty,” he told reporters at his regular news conference.
The president charged that officials took advantage of emergency situations to purchases billions of pesos worth of goods such as camp beds and sheet metal at “extremely high prices.”
”“There are people who lived off … Fonden, who did juicy business [with its resources],” López Obrador said.
Lawmakers who protested in Congress on Tuesday against the plan to abolish the public trusts are seeking to defend vested interests, he claimed.
Academics and others have criticized the plan to abolish the public trusts, asserting that it will result in funding cuts for areas such as scientific research and culture.
But López Obrador said that no injustice was being committed because anyone receiving government funding will continue to receive it if it is justified and they really deserve it.
“It catches my attention that they are defending the maintenance of the trusts with so much passion,” he said. “They were managed without transparency, in a discretionary way. It’s not known how their budgets were exercised, … it is known that there is a history of corruption.”
The Chamber of Deputies approved the proposal to abolish the trusts en lo general, or in a general sense, on Tuesday but individual articles within it remain up for debate and are subject to modification. If it receives full approval, the plan will be sent to the Senate for its consideration.
Mexico’s ruling party Morena, which put forward the plan, leads a coalition with a majority in both houses of Congress.
Accusations of corruption at Fonden have been made for many years.
Source: Reforma (sp)