By: Wilberth Villalobos Castrillo, Vozdeguanacaste – The Technical Road Management Unit (UTGV -UnidadTécnica de Gestión Vial) of Nicoya’s municipality invested 24% of their 2013 budget in road maintenance and construction projects in the canton, while 76% of the budgetwas used for administrative and operating expenses.
Those numbers were detailed in the regular municipal budget for the 2013 period in the communication routes section, where the total budget for UTGV was listed as ₡466,463,955 (approximately $933,000).
Of that amount, 53% (₡245,891,471 or $492,000) was used for administrative costs and 23% (₡107,900,074 or $216,000) for operating expenses. The remaining 24% (₡112,672,410 or $225,000) was used for the construction and maintenance of municipal roads.
Regarding that, Julio Lopez, the engineer in charge of UTGV, explained that while it’s true that the majority of the budget was used for administration and operating costs, part of the increase for those sections was due to unforeseen costs, such as personnel contracts.
“We had to add truck drivers, one backhoe operator, a compactor operator, and a machinery manager, in addition to costs for gasoline, and administrative charges.And for all personnel there were added office costs which we didn’t have before,” he said.
For Lopez, funds resulting from law 8114 shouldn’t be used for salaries or the office’s administrative costs. Instead, those should be covered by municipal administrative funds.
Law 8114 charges a tax on gas, contributing 30% of the funds raised to the Nacional Roadways Council (Conavi – ConsejoNacional de Vialidad) and municipalities.
“I think that we need people to be on every project, but I also believe that the equipment that we have (trucks, backhoes, compactors) shouldn’t be our cost (UTGV).”
For this year, the UTGV will be allocated ₡466,463,955 ($933,000), the same amount as 2013. The distribution is already assigned and only one line will change, as ₡331,052,775 (71% or $662,000) was assigned for administrative and operating costs, while ₡135,411,180 (29% or $270,000) is allocated for investment in road works.
For Julio Viales, regional director of the Public Transportation Ministry (MOPT – MinisterioPúblico de Transportes), the fact that the roadwaysunit invests more in personnel than works is a bad sign, and he thinks that the percentages should be the reverse of their current position.
“It should be 25% in administrative expenses and 75% in public works,” affirmed Viales, “I think that there’s poor administration, because funds from law 8114 that should be used for roads are being used topay salaries. Nicoya can’t progress in this way.”
For his part, Lopez asserts that for 2014 the city streets of Nicoya will be a priority, as well as those of Mansion, and the eight kilometers of the route from Nicoya to Sabana Grande and Nambi, where drainage systems will be installed with a cost of about ₡34 million ($68,000). A bridge over the Quebrada Ponedero in Nambi will be financed through a loan with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).