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Punctuality Incentives?

Diverting of public resources in Mexico is one of the main causes that contribute to our lack of growth and development
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
30/07/2017
09:03
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Diverting of public resources in Mexico remains one of the main causes that contribute to our lack of growth and development. The criteria used to define public resources allocation are frequently discretionary, opaque, clientelistic-oriented, originate from illegal arrangements, and, lastly, but not less important, sometimes are just plain inefficient.

A clear example of this – as informed yesterday by this editorial house – is the expenditure of the Federal Government between 2013 and 2016, which amounts to 34 billion 707 million 203 thousand Mexican pesos in punctuality bonuses for civil servants – the punctuality incentive, as they call it. This sum is similar to the amount the Federal Government provided to the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – 36 billion 345 million 963 thousand 558 Mexican pesos. In total, 23 Federal agencies offer these benefits, which increase year after year: from 2013 to 2016, the punctuality incentive grew a 13.62%.

This is a fairly common practice in the public and private sectors and it seeks to motivate employees to improve their performance at work. However, since we're talking about public resources badly needed in other areas, we need to know if these bonuses genuinely add value to the performance of public servants; and regardless of the answer, consider a reduction in this expenditure.

Of course, it would be even better if the Federal Government – and the Congress of the Union, which approves the expenditure budget – were to reconsider the existence of such an incentive in the first place. Because, honestly, we don't understand why such an amount is disbursed for this purpose when a similar amount is given to the most important university of our country – which has to cover education at an intermediate, undergraduate and graduate levels, in addition to scientific and cultural programs– and in the former it's given to reward a concept which, initially, is an obligation of the bureaucracy benefiting from it.

Incentives are beneficial as long as they fulfill an objective. Yet in this case, because the objective is to reward something all employees agree on when signing a contract – meet their work schedule – it's existence is unjustified. Is it right to reward compliance of an obligation? To do so despite the high cost to the national revenue in times of little public investment, of scarce social expenditure?

The criteria that should govern when deciding from the many issues that need resources in Mexico should be the one creating the greater social benefit, that is, the one which improves the quality of life of the greatest number of people. Evidently, this is not the case.

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