Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Over 18bn pesos for Texcoco airport project called into question

The Ministry of Public Administration (SFP) detected irregularities of 18.6 billion pesos in spending on the previous government’s new Mexico City airport project.

Public Administration Minister Irma Sandoval said Wednesday that the irregularities – US $859.9 million at today’s exchange rate – in spending on the airport at Texcoco, México state, justified the project’s cancelation.

Speaking at a forum organized by lower house lawmakers with the ruling Morena party, Sandoval said that the SFP detected total irregularities of 20 billion pesos in public infrastructure spending by the previous government led by ex-president Enrique Peña Nieto.

“[Of that amount] 18 billion [was spent] on the so-called new Mexico City International Airport which, I can tell you, is now more old than new,” she said. “[It’s] clearly proven that it wasn’t a good idea, as was decided in the end.”

The minister’s remarks came almost a month after she revealed that audits had detected irregularities of more than 544 billion pesos in the spending of the administration led by Peña Nieto.

Presenting an audit report on February 13, Sandoval said that questionable expenditure on the airport included 6 billion pesos in advance payments that the government is trying to recover and an additional 6 billion pesos that was used to pay for work that remains unaccounted for.

President López Obrador, who long asserted that the US $13-billion project was corrupt, canceled construction of the airport after a public consultation held a month before he took office in December 2018.

Sandoval also said Wednesday that audits had detected the embezzlement of 940 million pesos in 2018 from the Seguro Popular universal healthcare scheme, which has been replaced with a new program run by the newly created National Institute of Health for Well-Being.

In addition, she said that during the six-year term of the previous federal administration, the SFP filed only 113 criminal complaints related to government corruption whereas under her leadership, the ministry has filed 128 complaints in 15 months.

“Fifty of the complaints relate to illicit enrichment, 44 … have to do with … crimes linked to the so-called Master Fraud,” Sandoval said, referring to the embezzlement scheme in which 11 government departments diverted billions of pesos in public money through public universities and shell companies.

She also said that the SFP has filed complaints in relation to corruption in the public health sector and that 316 fines totaling almost 1.5 billion pesos have been imposed on companies that entered into contracts with the past government and subsequently “tried to benefit and prosper with the money of Mexicans.”

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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