If past practices are any indication, at least some of the money allocated by the federal disaster fund for earthquake recovery and rebuilding could end up being spent on something else.
The newspaper Reforma reported today that disaster relief allocated through the fund, called Fonden, has been plagued by irregularities over recent years. Among them: excessive bureaucratic procedures, diversion of funds, delays and the failure of aid to reach victims.
The scourge has extended across several states.
Former Tabasco governor Andrés Granier is currently serving in prison sentence for corruption and embezzlement that included the diversion of funds allocated to the state after flooding in 2011.
Granier was accused of pocketing 215 million pesos (US $11.8 million) that didn’t make it to the affected population while the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF) said the total amount that was diverted from relief efforts across the state probably reached 432.2 million pesos (US $23.7 million).
After flooding in Veracruz in 2015, the ASF detected that 14.4 million pesos destined for home repairs went missing via the state’s Agrarian and Urban Development Secretariat.
Ex-governor Javier Duarte, who was in office at the time, is no stranger to corruption allegations and is currently in custody awaiting trial after returning to Mexico from Guatemala in July.
In Guerrero, four years after hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel lashed the state, reconstruction work promised for the Tierra Caliente and Costa Chica regions has still not been completed.
Last month, federal employees said that only 43% of the rebuilding work had been completed although there have been indications that the federal secretariat administering funds allocated under the “New Guerrero Plan” is ready to declare that no further work will be completed under the program.
Some workers contracted to complete work in the state claim they haven’t been paid for five months and started a hunger strike in protest.
Further irregularities have been detected in Michoacán, Baja California Sur and Chiapas related to the distribution of aid following natural disasters in those states.
The federal government announced last week that up to 120,000 pesos would be made available to people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in last month’s earthquakes while President Enrique Peña Nieto said that just over 38 billion pesos would be required for the entire rebuilding effort.
In an apparent reference to past alleged wrongdoings, Finance Secretary José Antonio Meade made a public assurance through broadcaster Televisa that “every peso [of Fonden funding] will have GPS so that citizens can monitor it.”
Source: Reforma (sp)