December 5, 2022

Controversy in Colombia over millionaire contracts to buy appliances and even goose down for Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez

Read Time:5 Minute, 16 Second


(CNN Spanish) — The government of “change” that Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Márquez claim to represent are receiving criticism even from some of their own allies for a series of million-dollar purchases to furnish the private homes of the two officials who almost They have been in office for two months.

This weekend two purchase orders were made known by the Administrative Department of the Presidency, Dapre: one for 93 million pesos in appliances (about US$20,000 at current exchange rates) and another for almost 80 million pesos in lingerie and home clothes. (About $17,500).

Criticism has not been long in coming as the purchases took place in the midst of an austerity plan for state spending announced by President Petro.

Among the purchases that have Petro and Márquez in the eye of the hurricane are an 85-inch television for about US$6,000; glass-ceramic covers for stoves for about US$9,000; blenders, heaters, food processors, among others. In addition, the other invoice for lingerie purchases includes duvets, microfiche markers, sheet sets and even a goose down, all for about US$17,500 at current exchange rates. Invoices and purchase orders are posted online at the page of Colombia Buy Efficientlythe National Public Procurement Agency.

These purchases, which are dated September 23 and 26, 2022, were justified by the Presidency and the director of the Administrative Department of the Presidency, Mauricio Lizcano, who it’s a statement They said that “they obey the needs of the four state houses and guests of the Presidency and Vice Presidency, which, in total, add up to 34 rooms.”

“The process was carried out through Colombia Compra Eficiente, which must guarantee the integrity of State suppliers and market prices. We will verify the correct operation of the procedure and reinforce, if necessary, control mechanisms and guarantees,” added Lizcano in the Twitter statement after the controversy raised on social networks.

The government said it is “committed to a policy of austerity and efficiency of public resources.”

The houses “were received without mattresses”

The Presidency statement says that the purchase of the whites and appliances was made at the request of the Head of Houses of the Presidency, since “urgent needs” for their “correct functioning” were evident. According to that statement, the houses “were received without sheets, without curtains or without mattresses,” so new items had to be purchased.

But Víctor Muñoz, former director of the Administrative Department of the Presidency during the government of Iván Duque, met the controversy and referred to the expenses in question.

“In all governments the mattresses are changed,” wrote Muñoz, who contradicted Lizcano and assured that the curtains of private houses “are there,” but they were sent to be washed. He also said that the sheets from private houses are in the inventories of the administrative area and added that “The goose downs are new and obey the request of the new administration.”

Regarding the 85-inch television, Lizcano, the current director of Dapre, said that since it will be for institutional use, in the meeting room of one of the state houses, “it requires special technical specifications”; Muñoz said that during the Duque government this type of television was not purchased for private homes because “they are not part of the presidential administration.”

Petro allies criticize the high expenses

Although the sum of the two invoices could be, in the eyes of many, an insignificant expense for an entire national budget, the truth is that criticism of Petro has even come from his own party and its allies.

The senator of the Historical Pact, María José Pizarro, said that this “line of purchases” is not aligned with the vision of the Petro government.

“Our government must be austere, efficient and forceful in terms of results. I am sure that the “shopping line” that is in public opinion today is due to customs that are not aligned with the style, purposes and forms of this government,” tweeted Pizarro.

Senator Alexander López, of the Democratic Pole, a party that is part of the Government Coalition, asked the Petro government for clarity on possible cost overruns in purchases.

“Those who have committed irregularities must respond to justice and must leave the government of change,” López wrote.

Congresswoman Catherine Juvinao, of the Green Party, a movement of the official caucus, said that the purchases in question are “expensive and unnecessary” and “have no justification and should cost someone their job.”

“Change is serious and it is the mandate of Colombians. Let’s respect it. More is required from a government of change. To a Congress of change, too. The scrutiny of everything we do will be implacable and that is how it should be. Eyes open and minds in tune with what we were chosen to do and represent,” Juvinao tweeted.

The senator also from the Green Party, Inti Asprilla, said that the expenses in question are “indefensible.”

“The expenses for household items in Nariño are simply indefensible. Those who were in charge of said purchase must assume their responsibility,” tweeted Asprilla.





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