Tuesday, November 28, 2023

NGO warns of ‘incalculable damage’ from abolishing public trusts

The abolition of more than 100 public trusts, a federal government plan that is generating heated debate in Congress, will cause “incalculable damage,” warns a non-governmental organization.

Government watchdog Causa en Común (Common Cause) said the order to eliminate 109 public trusts and funds represents unprecedented abuse in the management of resources set aside for projects and activities that are “essential” to the Mexican state.

Resources earmarked for scientific research, cultural projects, disaster response, the defense of human rights, the protection of journalists, agricultural development, scholarships for students and attending to victims of crime are all at risk, the group said in a statement under the heading, “Expropriating Public Trusts is a Robbery against the Future of the Country.”

Causa en Común charged that the “appropriation of resources is now a custom of the current government,” noting that it has already reassigned billions of pesos from two large federal funds.

“The reassignment of resources has caused … a severe amputation of government capacities,” it said, adding that federal authorities are now seeking to appropriate tens of billions of pesos to use at their own discretion.

The 109 trusts set to be abolished – a bill to eliminate them was approved by the lower house of Congress on Tuesday – had a combined budget of 68 billion pesos (US $3.1 billion) this year. Lawmakers have already passed a reform that will allow the Interior Ministry to control the funds.

Causa en Común claimed that the government will redirect the resources to “useless” infrastructure projects, the militarization of Mexico and welfare programs.

“At a time when the worst health, economic and security crises of the past century are converging, the damage to the country will be incalculable. There will be insufficient demagogy to hide the merciless diversion of resources towards grandiose [but] useless projects, the militarization of the country and clientelistic programs disguised as social policy,” the NGO said.

“We respectfully appeal to all legislators not to subordinate the development of the country to pressure, threats and electoral calculations. We make an urgent call to [lawmakers to] defend scientific research, culture, civilian security institutions, victims, human rights and the fundamental capacities of the Mexican state. All these are causes and responsibilities that the country doesn’t have the luxury of abandoning. Please rectify.”

Several academics have also criticized the plan to abolish the public trusts, asserting that it will deal a historic blow to science and culture.

Today, President López Obrador claimed officials at the disaster relief fund Fonden, one of the trusts, used it as “a not-so-petty cash box.”

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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