Saturday, June 22, 2024

Unions, officials that receive public funds will have to reveal their assets

Union leaders, judges and all other officials who receive or manage public money will be required to publicly declare their assets under a new scheme proposed by the incoming federal government.

The aim of the so-called universal declaration system, put forward by president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is to avoid conflicts of interest and thus help stamp out corruption in the public sector.

Its implementation would require a reform to the General Law of Administrative Responsibilities.

According to López Obrador’s proposal, “all public officials, popularly elected representatives, judges, magistrates, members and officials of political parties and unions, members of civil associations and any other person who uses, collects, holds or manages [public] money or who assumes public duties of a pecuniary nature in the name of the government of the republic will participate, without any exceptions.”

The initiative also proposes the establishment of special criminal offenses for failing to disclose assets or providing false information on declarations, and aims to strengthen the punitive provisions for conflict of interest offenses as established in existing legislation.

“It would be necessary to complement this sophisticated regime of penalties with a new institutional design that allows them to be effective. The terrible institutional design for accountability has guaranteed total impunity for all public officials who offend in this respect,” the proposal states.

Anyone who occupies any public or judicial position would have to legally discharge himself or herself of any economic interests that could directly affect the exercise of their public responsibilities.

The proposal also stipulates that it would be “strictly prohibited for any public official or his or her family members . . . to use their public position to establish any kind of private business with national or international contractors, investors or business people.”

The proposal is critical of the fact that government departments that have the power to penalize public officials, such as the Secretariat of Public Administration (SFP) and the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), are not independent from the Mexican president.

In addition, bodies that are independent — such as the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) and the federal Congress — have limited powers to investigate and punish officials, the document charges.

By eliminating conflicts of interest, the incoming administration estimates that it can save more than 764 million pesos (US $40.3 million) of public money.

The measures have received a positive reaction from union leaders.

Marco Antonio García Ayala, head of the National Syndicate of Health Secretariat Workers, said the system would help to avoid corruption.

“Without a doubt, it will be a measure to strengthen transparency and accountability in the management and use of public resources, which must be looked after. We’re in favor of the initiative in the terms proposed,” he said.

Fernando Salgado, political action secretary of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), also threw his support behind the proposal.

“The use of public resources must be transparent because when a union organization receives a donation, an allocation of funds or a subsidy . . . it must be used for the purposes for which it was intended, not go into someone’s pocket or bank account.”

Source: El Universal (sp)

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