Thursday, June 18, 2009

Funes uncovers "ghost positions" during ARENA administration

Twelve days after his inauguration, President Mauricio Funes announced that he had found corruption in public institutions. In the years during the Saca presidency (2004-2009), several ARENA government employees received pay from the National Registry for jobs they were not doing. Additionally, Funes found many abuses of public spending, such as the former director as well as the sub director of the Instituto Seguro Social (health care system) each having four vehicles at the expense of the state.

The director of the National Registry has to date reported 29 of these “ghost positions” – positions where people received money without ever working. Some payments began as early as 2002 and they continue until the last day the ARENA government had power, May 31, 2009. These “ghost positions” and wasteful spending cost the Salvadoran government around $700,000 annually.

A “ghost position” that has been gaining publicity is that of an ARENA deputy, who is also a doctor. The National Registry paid the deputy to be a gynecologist though never actually serving as one. Without doing work, this deputy received $954 every month.

President Funes has addressed this situation by ordering an investigation to uncover the “ghost positions.” He named Carlos Cáceres, the minister of the Treasury, to head the investigation, though Funes has yet to disclose further details about the particular functions and logistics of the commission.

The president is also planning to make an executive decree which would place restrictions on the use of vehicles by the state, the purchase of goods and services, and the filling of these vacant positions. This decree is projected to save $75 million – $35 in human resources and $40 in goods and services – by eliminating “ghost positions” and creating an inter-institutional purchase of goods and services to buy necessary items at the most competitive price possible.

- Leslie O'Bray, Grassroots Education and Advocacy Intern

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