Senators against transparency

Senators have evaded their responsibility to disclose the expenses assigned to them for international travels

English 23/05/2017 09:37 Mexico City Newspaper leader by EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 14:42

The transparency of institutions constitutes one of the values on which the most solid democracies are founded. It is the characteristic that makes information on public resources reachable to all: if they are used as legally stipulated or if the treasury is respected according to budgetary regulations. Why would a popular representative, a public institution, resist the most basic accountability mandates?

As EL UNIVERSAL publishes today, senators have evaded their responsibility to disclose the travel expenses assigned to them for international travels, a fact that contravenes what is established by the General Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information.

This information of public interest allows society to know part of the activities of the legislators, reason why the denial of this public regulation repudiates the very law that they themselves approved. The Senate regulation stipulates that for international travels, per day, and in the countries that make up the euro zone, the legislators have 450 euros, while in the rest of the world they have 520 dollars. Do they spend it all? Do they give back part of it? There is no report of it.

Despite the national and international economic turmoil, last year, the Senate spent 24.7 million pesos in airline tickets and travel expenses for 84 international trips. The previous year, 2015, senators spent 17.1 million pesos, so the expenditure increased by a third, since in 2016, 7.6 million pesos more were paid for tours abroad.

Not only must we note the repeated denials of the senators to, as far as possible, omit the information about abroad trips which they justify as work activities, but, although there is an agreement of austerity, purchases of plane tickets with a commercial value above 150 thousand pesos are a common practice in the Senate.

By not reporting in a clear and detailed manner the information of the costs of their trips, they are not only violating the principle of accountability or the law in the matter that they themselves approved. Deep down, they are sending a message that they are the exception to the rule that states that all subjects are forced to be transparent.

Where are the attempts to hide the travel expenses of senators abroad born? The ticket prices they usually get are high, the most expensive, and the privileges they enjoy, the travel expenses they have, are beyond the reach of the average Mexican's income.

While inflation in Mexico continues to rise and international volatility remains, senators have the opportunity to show their interest in the economy of Mexicans. They can start by being transparent and not squandering when it comes to their trips abroad.