The AGN will not audit this year government purchases in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and will focus on the management of Macri

The building of the General Audit of the Nation. Today’s meeting of auditors was remote due to the pandemic

The oficialismo imposed his number at the meeting of auditors of the General Audit of the Nation (AGN) this noon and rejected by majority the proposal of the radical Alejandro Nieva to adapt the agency’s Annual Operational Plan 2020, to incorporate in the second semester the audit of budgetary expenses and purchases made by the State within the framework of COVID-19.

Was the second time that they were dealing with the proposal – whose vote had been postponed two weeks ago – and the debate refocused on whether or not the AGN has powers to carry out concomitant audits, or only afterwards.

Nieva and the president of the organization, the also radical Jesus Rodriguez, were in the minority in their position to incorporate the contracting and executive decisions made by the pandemic in this year’s Audit Plan, approved in 2019. Among other arguments, they mentioned that they were measures or purchases that have been made in the emergency without sufficient controls, because there is no agreed Budget in Congress – last year’s was extended and it is the Chief of Cabinet who reallocates resources – most of the measures are taken by DNU and Parliament is operating intermittently.

Auditor Alejandro Nieva (UCR)
Auditor Alejandro Nieva (UCR)

It is urgent and timely that we focus on verifying how the IFE is being implemented, for exampleNieva warned. “How not to audit what is happening with the PAMI nursing homes?, he added, to try to convince the Justicialist bloc to accompany him in his proposal. “We say that it can be done and that it should be done and we have no margin not to do it,” he said emphatically.

“By the Constitution, we are the body expressly empowered for this, the one that has the human and material resources to do so. We must immediately start planning the audits we need to accompany the emergency situation in the country. It will be good for officials to know that they are being observed, so that scarce public resources are not wasted”, Justified his initiative.

In response to the claims of the justicialista auditors that the AGN cannot audit in real time, he clarified that “the norm foresees doing so up to one month before starting the audit, for what could be done on the first semester of this year ”.

Auditor Javier Fernández (Justicialista)
Auditor Javier Fernández (Justicialista)

The spiciest reply came from another historical auditor of Justicialism, Javier Fernández, after calling each other “friends”, for the years they have shared in the AGN, more than a decade.

Fernández reminded him of his position contrary to the current one, when in March 2016 the then president of the organization during the administration of Cambiemos, Ricardo Echegaray, proposed to change the approved plan to audit the previous Kirchner government, to do a real-time audit of the new management of Mauricio Macri. As Fernández recalled, Nieva then opposed “factual and legal limitations.” And he stressed that the Justicialist bloc accompanied him in that position, beyond being at that time an opposition.

On March 16, 2016, we were saying one thing, and now you are seized by an immense power of audit, which wants to be SIGEN and AGN at the same time. Our National Constitution has the SIGEN that audits concomitantly and we are ex post”, Emphasized Fernández, when mentioning the General Syndicate of the Nation, organism of internal comptroller of the Executive.

The justicialista auditor also highlighted the “enormous backwardness” that the AGN currently has in its plan for this year on the subject of debt renegotiation and negotiation with the IMF. “I do not see him concerned on this issue of public debt, preparing an urgent opinion that the people and the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are demanding. That is importantFernández snapped at Nieva.

And complained about notes published in the media, including Infobae, that mentioned the resistance of the Front of All to incorporate the Government’s decisions regarding the health emergency in this year’s AGN Plan. “We are not going to run with the press with two or three articles. We are now auditing the previous management. But make it clear that we are going to audit everything about COVID, when appropriate

Juan Forlon
Juan Forlon

Along the same lines, the other auditors of the Everyone’s Front intervened, Juan Forlón, Graciela de la Rosa and Gabriel Mihura Estrada. In addition to insisting that the AGN can only carry out audits afterwards, they argued that any modification to the annual Operational Plan should have the approval of the Mixed Auditing Commission of the Congressional Accounts.

Forlón, after noting that the press was witnessing the meeting at midday by Zoom, reinforced what Fernández said: “Let it be clear that COVID is going to be audited. Officials already know that the current management of the pandemic will be audited, and that it will be audited. ex post. It is a lie that there is no control in the pandemic. There is a control that is SIGEN and there are internal controls in the ministries

We are now auditing the previous management. Or do you think that nothing happened in the previous management? ”He chimed. “Today is not only important. Society is interested in us fulfilling our role. Previous periods are always audited, detached from political questions. Today it is not defined whether COVID is audited or not; we are going to do it, but not today ”. And added that there are issues such as purchases in the Ministry of Social Development of the Nation that are already in Justice.

Nieva retorted that it is precisely Justice that frequently goes to the AGN to request reports to advance its judicial investigations. In fact, this is what happened with the cause of Shared Dreams, the plan for the construction of social housing by the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Foundation. Denounced for numerous irregularities, the Justice relied on an AGN report to corroborate them.

Jesús Rodríguez, Auditor General of the Nation
Jesús Rodríguez, Auditor General of the Nation

On the end, and seeing that Nieva’s proposal was in the minority, the AGN president said he had a “feeling of disappointment”. “Not only because I believe that there are vast sectors of society that demand that we fulfill our task, but because I also believe that controlling government spending is the aspiration of the President of the Nation himself. I know it directly and personallyRodríguez affirmed.

“There is no Budget, there was no deliberation by Congress regarding where resources are obtained and what are the priorities, we have DNU by the dozens, and accountability in Congress is low,” he lamented.

After describing an alarming social and economic panorama for when the country comes out of the pandemic, Rodríguez ended his presentation with a phrase by Kant: “Without Constitution and without law, even angels act as demons

Fernández did not let his closure pass. “His words thrill me,” he said ironically, to later remind him of his past as head of the economic portfolio during the government of Raúl Alfonsín: “We had worse crises and you were the Minister of Economy, without a pandemic ”.

At today’s meeting it was planned to join Miguel Pichetto, the third member for the opposition. But the paralysis of the Chamber of Deputies by COVID delayed the taking of his oath. It is estimated that the president of the Chamber, Sergio Massa, will do so next Tuesday. Only then can it be formally incorporated. Rodríguez passed him Infobae that he will return to insist on the issue of auditing emergency contracts when the former justicialista senator joins, now enrolled in Together for the change.

“You can always change the action plan, Shared Dreams was the result of a change in the action plan, as was Soccer for All. And issues that are subject to judicial analysis can also be audited. The AGN has functional autonomy. In the emergency context that we are experiencing, from the AGN we cannot pretend that nothing is happening“The president of the organization warned in dialogue with this media at the end of the meeting.

I kept reading:

Coronavirus in Argentina: purchases and public contracts for the pandemic emergency, under the magnifying glass