New corruption scandal at Pemex

Today, EL UNIVERSAL revealed that the Energy Ministry is inspecting contracts awarded by Pemex at the end of the previous administration

New corruption scandal at Pemex
Pemex has been involved in several corruption cases – Photo: Edgar Garrido/REUTERS
English 24/01/2019 09:20 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:20

Leer en español

The fight against corruption is something that is always discussed and a lot is promised but there are not many results to deliver when society demands them.

One of the agencies that are usually at the center of polemics is Pemex. In the last two decades, it has been linked to embezzlement for electoral campaigns, the misuse of resources by its directors and lavishness. The serious problem of fuel theft can't be understood without the participation of officials and workers inside the company. The federal government has made prompt accusations.

Today, EL UNIVERSAL revealed that the Energy Ministry is inspecting actions implemented by Pemex at the end of the previous administration.

First, Pemex sold its three hydrogen plants in the Tula, Cadereyta, and Ciudad Madero refineries. Then, without a structure to generate hydrogen, it directly awarded 20-year-contracts to three companies that will sell them the chemical. Each month, for the next two decades, Pemex has to pay at least USD $2.7 million to these three companies.

The Energy Ministry initial assumption is that in order to benefit the companies that sell hydrogen, Pemex got rid of its hydrogen plants. The sale of the hydrogen plants and awarding contracts might not be illegal. Proving it was done with malice won't be easy.

In public administration, one of the measures used to prevent corruption is transparency during the awarding of contracts. The law dictates these should be awarded after a bidding process and when the contracts are awarded directly, the cause should be explained. Was this the case when Pemex signed the contracts with the companies that supply hydrogen?

It's time Mexico punishes bad decisions taken now or in the recent past, especially those that affect public finances. There's usually a scandal but in the end, the punishment is minimum or non-existent. The Odebrecht case is a clear example, no developments were presented even though it was announced that the investigation finished over a year ago.

The country now has a unique opportunity to attack corruption, but developing mechanisms to eradicate corruption should be the main priority. There are developments encouraged by civil society. Its necessary to partner with them and work coordinately.