Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Federal auditor admits errors in calculation of airport cost; figures are being revised

The Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) has admitted that there were errors in its calculation of the cost to cancel the previous government’s Mexico City airport project.

The ASF said Saturday that canceling the partially built project at Texcoco, México state, would cost almost 332 billion pesos (US $16.1 billion), an estimate more than three times higher than that of the federal government.

President López Obrador, who took the decision to cancel the project after a legally questionable public consultation in 2018, rejected the ASF’s estimate on Monday, saying that the figure was “wrong” and “exaggerated” and that he had “other information.”

He also called on the auditor’s office to explain how it reached its figure.

In a statement issued later on Monday, the ASF said there were “inconsistencies” in its calculation and that its content is undergoing “exhaustive revision.”

“Up until now it has been detected that said amount [the estimated cancellation cost] is less than initially estimated due to a methodological deficiency,” it said.

The calculation currently under revision “considers past and future flows [of money] to carry out the cancellation of the contracted obligations,” the ASF said. That movement of money “doesn’t represent a cost but it does represent an outflow,” it said.

The ASF also said there were miscalculations with regard to costs associated with liquidating airport bonds. It said that the final result of the revision will be announced when it has been completed.

The Ministry of Communications and Transportation estimated in a 2019 document that the canceation of the US $15-billion airport would cost 100 billion pesos (US $4.8 billion).

López Obrador has said that scrapping the project in favor of converting the Santa Lucía Air Force base into a commercial airport will save the government about 130 billion pesos.

According to the government, the total cost of the new airport– whose first stage, a new military base, was inaugurated earlier this month – is projected to be 75 billion pesos (US $3.7 billion), or 230 billion pesos less than what the former administration’s airport would have cost.

The estimated 130-billion-peso saving includes a cost of 100 billion pesos to cancel the Texcoco project.

“It was a great decision we took, a wise decision,” López Obrador said at the military base inauguration, referring to scrapping the project, which was about one-third complete when it was abandoned.

The president long argued that the previous government’s flagship infrastructure project was corrupt, too expensive and geologically unsound. His alternative, the Santa Lucía airport, is slated to open in March 2022.

Source: EFE (sp)  

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