domingo, 27 de maio de 2012

The Government’s 1878 Hidden Bills

Source: Expresso

A Court Auditor’s Report concludes that the Madeira hidden debt was the result of the deliberate actions of five members of Jardim’s Government: Santos Costa, Secretary in charge of Public Works between 2000 and 2011; Ventura Garçês, the Secretary of Finances, and another three subordinates.

The audit uncovered that the hidden debt corresponded to 1878 bills, almost all related to public construction projects build between 2003 and 2010. The issuing and registering of the bills had been successively put on hold.

The conclusions point to grave infractions in terms of not reporting  to the National Statistics Institute and the Budget Directorate General, as required by law. Those responsible are therefore liable to criminal prossecution (hardly likely in Portugal).

Those responsible alledged they had difficulty in circulating documents between the services, also blaming their computer programs for delays in issuing and registering bills. The Court Auditors were not convinced.

Such excuses, the report reads, could never  justify discrepancies to the order of seven hundred million Euros over seven years, particularly since there were several moments every year which obliged the Secretariat to make a balance of the budgetary and financial situation of the Secretariat.   

810 million of the 862 million unpaid debt, hidden over the years, relate to construction projects. A further 404 million correspond to interest on arrears owed to twelve builders – the result of extravant clauses in the contracts relating to delays in payment.

The hidden debt was successively regularized with the builder in 2008, 2009 and 2010 without ever setting a limit on the interest in arreas. Just in the period of six months between December 2010 and June 2011, the interest grew by 40 million. One of the violations of the Budget Law denounced by the audit relates precisely for the lack of justification for the accumulation of interest.

Why should Madeiran’s pay for this scam. The construction companies were in on the scam and did very nicely out of it, making sure they kept Bertie in power to ensure the money kept rolling in and that he would keep them happy with lots of new construction projects – to be inaugurated during the election campaign.The constructors – who are all heavily linked to Jardim and Jaime Ramos – should also be held criminally responsible for playing along in hiding the debt, duping the electorate to keep benefitting from the Jardim dictatorship.

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