IMCO sees lag, deficiencies and opacity in the construction of Banco del Bienestar branches

Lag in construction of branches, poor planning and opacity in public informationare the remarks made by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) Regarding the project to expand the offices of the Banco del Bienestar, one of the main ones of the current federal administration.

In an analysis, the IMCO explained, on the one hand, that there is no clarity or continuity in the goal expansion of branches, because between official documents and declarations, the construction goal has varied, first 7,000, then to 2,700 in 2021 and 2,744 by 2023.

The institute detailed, based on its analysis, that 55% of the branches are under construction or not yet built. “According to the goal set, Sedena should build 2,700 branches by the end of 2021. However, as of February 2022, only 1,212 have been built,” he said.

insufficient planning

In its analysis, the IMCO added that although the stated objective was to increase financial inclusion among the vulnerable population, it is not possible to identify a specific criterion for the evaluation of compliance with this, since, to date, the 26 municipalities of the country with a higher percentage of the population living in poverty, they do not have any branch in operation.

In addition to this, he pointed out that the public purchases of the bank and Sedena indicate insufficient planning in the equipment of branches.

“The high amount contracted by direct award and the cancellation of contracts for more than 27,000 million pesos for the acquisition of ATMs and banking transaction services, generates additional costs and reflects poor resource management.”

Likewise, he mentioned that as the executor of the bank’s expansion plan, Sedena acquired goods for all the branches without their being fully built, which indicates a lack of coordination in their work.

He argued that there is currently on average less than one person per branch in operation, so the lack of planning and management of the project impacts the workforce.

Information not available

The IMCO document referred that, in addition, the information on the expenditure for the construction of the branches is not available, since the public contracts carried out by the Sedena refer to purchases of equipment, and it is necessary to know what 74% has been spent on. of the budget allocated for construction.

In this sense, he considered that although there is an obligation to publish information on public purchases, the level is insufficient.

The IMCO added that in 2021, the Banco del Bienestar favored direct adjudication, since 9 out of 10 pesos were awarded without competition.

Create realistic plans

In this sense, he proposed creating realistic and detailed plans that include cost-benefit evaluations, estimated amounts and delivery dates; as well as making public procurement contracts transparent; and ensure that agreements between public institutions are regulated by law and, in any case, are an exception process such as direct award or restricted invitation.

“What we want is to identify those irregularities, failures and risky practices, so that in the months that follow this project, and other government projects, there is a completely different analysis and planning, so as not to repeat the same practices,” said Fernanda AvendaƱo, coordinator IMCO’s anti-corruption department.

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