Stopping the use of welfare programs for political purposes

The use of welfare programs for electoral purposes is a problem in Mexico that still needs a resolution
Stopping the use of welfare programs for political purposes
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
01/04/2018
08:58
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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The use of welfare programs for electoral purposes is a pending problem we need to resolve. Nowadays, it's still a common practice among political parties in Mexico to break the law by using positions of power and the resources provided by said positions of power to make electoral politics all the way from Government offices.

The matter doesn't seem less serious if we account for the simple fact that the electoral use of certain welfare programs or resources – which becomes a condition for certain benefits – goes against the goals of the programs themselves and that this unlawful use strongly influences voters.

In this regard, it's interesting to learn about the strategy announced to be implemented in the capital of the Republic for the current electoral process. The Comptroller's Office of Mexico City, in collaboration with the Specialized Attorney's Office against Electoral Crimes (FEPADE) and the Attorney's Office of Mexico City, as well as other local and federal institutions, have developed a strategy to prevent public funds from being channeled towards electoral campaigns.

The plan is commendable if we consider that in Mexico City local welfare programs are equal to MXN$ 20 billion for this 2018, in addition to the MXN$ 726 million of the institutional actions of the boroughs.

According to Mexico City's Comptroller, Eduardo Rovelo, the plan consists in, basically, providing a prompt response to official complains made through a platform enabled for this purpose, thus fighting the notion that citizen complains are never attended. Although not all cases will derive in a fine or a penalty, all official complaints will be addressed, according to the statement. Moreover, the Comptroller's Office is taking preventive, management, and deterrent measures to avoid public servants from violating the law. To date, the Comptroller's Office has received 39 official complains on the unlawful use of welfare programs for electoral purposes, out of which it has already opened 33 case files.

And despite the Comptroller's Office not having jursidiction in electoral matters – like its director has stated – it does have the power to safeguard the adequate use of public funds and to monitor public servants to ensure public funds are used according to the original budget. Moreover, this agency also has the powers and jurisdiction to investigate any irregular activity in this regard and process it if applicable.

However, despite all the advantages of this process – which has to be launched first to see, exactly, how it performs – the current electoral process is much too important both, at a local and a federal level, therefore, the politicization of official complaints should also be avoided at the same time the complaints have to be managed without bias; otherwise, this initiative will be going against its original purpose.

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