Saturday 28 January 2023

War declared on corruption! Presidential candidates propose changes

Digitizing all State action and centralizing purchases and public tenders would help stop illegal acts, according to candidates; Protecting whistleblowers is essential to end this problem

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28 January 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Digitize all actions of the State so that there is always a trace, protect people who dare to report illicit acts in the public function, and oblige all institutions to carry out their purchases and tenders through the Integrated System of Public Procurement (Sicop) are some of the proposals made by presidential candidates to curb corruption.

Corruption is one of the main concerns of Costa Ricans, in addition to the cost of living and unemployment, according to various surveys.

Likewise, it has been proposed to end the indefinite reelection of public positions, as in the case of mayors, which can become a focus of anomalous acts.

The declared war against corruption becomes relevant in public discussion, at a time when road construction and maintenance contracts are once again in the midst of controversy.

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In the latest case, “Diamante”, the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ) and the Fiscalíap (prosecutor’s office) are investigating the payment of alleged bribes to municipal officials to favor the MECO company.

Five months ago, judicial authorities also dismantled an organization within the Conavi, the roads council of the Ministry of Transport, also involved in alleged acts of corruption with public works. The “Cochinilla” case involves more than 30 people accused of acts of corruption, including the owners of MECO, Carlos Cerdas and the H. Solis, Melida Solis, who are currently in preventive detention (remand) while the investigation continues.

Corruption is one of the main concerns of Costa Ricans, in addition to the cost of living and unemployment, according to various surveys.

In this sense, several of the candidates vying for the presidency in the February 2022 general elections, agree on the need to protect those who dare to denounce acts of corruption.

“The corruption events of recent days are the death sentence for a political class that has become so corrupt that it has managed to sicken all the institutions. There are parties that made a business out of politics,” said Fabricio Alvarado, presidential candidate for the Nueva República party.

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Alvarado proposes that all State purchases should be made through the Integrated Public Procurement System so that there is greater transparency and the Digitization of the State, which would allow generating a kind of fingerprint for any procedure, permit, purchase, service or other.

“We will be there with brave people who will fight head-on against corruption, to prevent the corrupt from draining resources for public works and to serve the poorest citizens. I am willing to eat the anger that confronting the small mafias of the public and private sector represents,” said Rodrigo Chaves of the Partido Progreso Social Democrático.

Chaves proposes passing a law to promote reporting and protect those who dare to accuse acts of corruption, whistleblowers and would also sanction people who know about illegal acts and do not report

Former president, Jose Maria Figueres, candidate for the Partido Liberacion Nacional (PLN), proposes that whoever offers or pays bribes should face immediate dismissal from office for the competent authorities to investigate. The principle is, no one is above the law.

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Figueres adds that absolute transparency in public purchases, so all government purchases must be made via the existing electronic system and modernization of the anti-corruption legislation with advice from the Judiciary.

Rodolfo Piza, presidential candidate for the Partido Nuestro Pueblo, tackling corruption requires much less administrative discretion and greater legitimacy for citizens to report corruption and not suffer consequences for doing so. Piza also calls for better control of public sector contracts.

Lineth Saborío, presidential candidate for the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC), proposes that lifetime positions must be ended and for this, the re-election of mayors and other municipal officials be limited to a single term. Likewise, the audits of the institutions have to become an extended arm of the Comptroller’s Office, to achieve independence and avoid any conflict of interest.

Saborio believed that from an early age, a culture of values ​​against corruption should be encouraged.


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