Since the health emergency was decreed last March, the Government made purchases and contracts for a total of $ 14,760 million to address the effects of the pandemic of Covid-19. Of that awarded amount, almost $ 2000 million (13%) were made outside the Compr.ar system, the platform of public purchases of the State. Half of that amount – just over one billion pesos – corresponds to the Ministry of Health, headed by Ginés González García.
The pandemic set the stage for a jump in hiring outside the electronic control system, that began to be implemented in 2016. To have a magnitude of the amount, it is useful to exemplify that the $ 2000 million is practically equivalent to the total expenditure of the Anmat, the body in charge of drug control.
The purchase figures are contained in a meticulous database compiled by the Foundation’s observatory Citizen Power, which was dedicated to monitor the contracts made by the State since the first irregularities and overpricing were detected in purchases made due to the pandemic. These data were systematized by the team of the president of the Auditor General of the Nation (AGN), the radical Jesus Rodriguez, who overtook THE NATION that next year this control body of Congress will undertake to audit the expenses of the pandemic originated during the past year.
Rodríguez warned that “the hiring ecosystem is showing great opacity” in the government of Alberto Fernandez.
The document prepared by the head of the AGN produces two strong conclusions. The first one warns about “wide margins of discretion” that they had the purchases “from the point of view of the procedure, because under certain conditions the contracting can be carried out outside the Compr.ar system”. Second, alert about the “lack of synchronization between portals that contain information on purchases and emergency hiring”. In addition, it warns that the system lacks uniform criteria for the publication of information.
According to data released by the Citizen Power observatory, since the health emergency was decreed, the Government has registered information on 677 contracts, mainly of goods, carried out by 62 public bodies, with award dates ranging from March to November 2020. As already stated, the total amount awarded for the contracts reached $ 14,760 million: 67% corresponds to the Ministry of Health ($ 9,838 million) and 14% ($ 2,116 million), to the Ministry of Social Development.
After processing the data on the number of contracts, their amounts and the main winners, the AGN presidency observed that 50% of the total amount is explained by the award to 8 companies. The main beneficiary, with contracts for a total of $ 2,274 million, is the company Tecme SA, firm that is dedicated to the manufacture of artificial respirators, as well as Service Ingeniería, that invoiced almost $ 927 million since the pandemic began.
A suggestive case is that of the company Vialerg SA. As postedTHE NATION Last August, this firm, created at the end of 2018, was dedicated to the commercialization and road maintenance for construction, but With the arrival of the coronavirus, it became one of the five companies that billed the Government the most: almost $ 950 million. The public agencies that disbursed the highest amount in their respective contracts were, as mentioned, the Ministries of Health and Social Development. Regarding the portfolio commanded by González García, 82% of the total amount awarded corresponded to 12 companies.
Regarding the ministry in charge of Daniel Arroyo, 19 awards were made according to the study. 89% of the total awarded is explained by 12 suppliers.
Of the total amount of contracts made by the State, 13% ($ 1951 million) were made outside the Compr.ar platform. If, instead, the number of awards, 11% (48) bypassed the electronic system. Although the use of this public platform to invite bidders to quote is optional for state agencies, not using it can lead to arbitrariness, the AGN chief warned in his report.
“When a contract is made outside the Compr.ar, the regulations indicate that a minimum of three suppliers must be invited. This provision generates the risk that suppliers are chosen with the objective of benefiting one in particular “, Rodríguez indicated.
What public bodies avoided the use of this platform? “By relative importance, the following organizations stand out with the number of contracts awarded outside the Compr.ar: Ministry of Tourism (50%), Argentine Army Central Military Hospital (71%), National Directorate of Migration (75%) and University of La Matanza (57%) “, details the report.
Meanwhile, if the analysis is considered by amount, the agencies with the highest awards outside of Compr.ar were the Asset Management Department (54%); the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (72%); the Argentine Army Hospital Militar Central (97%), and the University of La Matanza (65%).
The expenditure made by the Ministry of Tourism outside Compr.ar is striking: it was not destined for the pandemic, but for the tourist complex of Chapadmalal.
“The audits should pay special attention to those contracts that were carried out outside the Compr.ar system”, Rodríguez recommended in his report. Despite the fact that the AGN ruling party rejected the possibility of auditing the expenses demanded by the pandemic in real time, it was finally agreed to include this issue in the AGN 2021 action plan. This was agreed by the auditors and the Joint Review Commission of Accounts of Congress.
According to the criteria of