QCOSTARICA – In what may be a desperate move, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT) – Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, has hired the State power and telecom, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), to “oversee” works on the new San Carlos road project.
In the deal, the MOPT will pay ICE ¢2.131 million colones (about US$4 million dollars) to supervise the construction of the new road (from San Jose) to San Carlos , all behind the back of the Contraloría General de la República (Comptroller General’s office).
Against the deal is also the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) – Attorney General’s office, last August expressing the opinion that ICE should stick to the functions for which it was created: electrical power supply and telecommunications.
The MOPT alleges that is had tried for months to hire an audit company for the San Carlos project, but received no offers and, therefore, turned to the ICE to take on the task.
The agreement is for 21 months, where ICE will audit the quality of the work being performed by the contracting firm, Sanchez Carvajal, including expropriations, topography work and ensure environmental commitments are met.
Illiana Rodriguez Quiros, head of the Legal Division at ICE, said the contract is not disrespectful of the Attorney General because the institute is not performing any construction work, the role is simply one of monitoring.
“ICE is legally empowered to establish agreements. At no time is ICE assuming the powers which by law has the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (CONAVI) – National Highway Council. We are dedicated to giving the CONAVI technical support so that it can fulfill its responsibilities and promptly provide the country with the work,” said Quiros.
However, assistant Attorney General, Magda Rojas, said on November 5, that the State agency (ICE) can only sell consulting services related to its function.
In its report, the leading daily Spanish language newspaper, La Nacion, said it tried to contact the MOPT minister, Carlos Segnini and CONAVI director, Mauricio Salom, but neither returned phone calls or emails.
Without information on the deal, the press offices of the Attorney General and Comptroller General, say they are unaware of the relationship between the MOPT and ICE.