Derechos | Equipo Nizkor
Español | Français
Prosol and its audits
The Interim Governor of the Department of Tarija, Lino Condori, has made a surprise announcement that he has decided to audit 8 files of what is known as the Community Support Programme (Programa Solidario Comunal - PROSOL), thus breaching a basic principle of financial accounting concerning the integrity and relevance of the information audited.
Walter Ferrufino Lino Condori Carlos Villavicencio Plaza
In other words, the supposedly "extremely loyal" director of Prosol, Carlos Villavicencio Plaza (who in January of this year accepted that "30 productive initiatives of the Community Support Programme (Prosol) were delayed" and also affirmed that "due to the lack of programming by the Audit Section of the Regional Government, an analysis of all of these has not been achieved"), has decided that given the continuing inability to audit Prosol, the solution is that those who should be audited - those responsible for managing Prosol, Governor Condori and the directors of Prosol since the commencement of the programme - should decide what it is that is going to be audited.
It should be said that the order to carry out an audit of Prosol has been given by the highest office of the Plurinational State, i.e. directly by President Evo Morales.
It is evident that those who surround the governor have not explained the technical and legal ins and outs of his decisions and the consequences of the same, and as a result the governor, is going to pass into the history of the Department of Tarija as a leader of little efficacy, whose actions could even be described as detrimental to State interest, as they have caused and continue to cause economic and social damage which at some point will have to be clarified and analysed according to law.
Returning to the matter of Prosol - a programme exclusive to the Department of Tarija in Bolivia, and through which direct finance is offered to the campesino and indigenous communities, since 2008 in the context of this programme, various millions of dollars have been paid out. In 2013 the Secretary of Planning of the Regional Government, Román Yépez, stated that for this year, 240 million bolivianos had been assigned, approximately 35 million dollars. Such an injection of resources to the indigenous and campesino population could lead one to suppose that important changes and improvements are being made in the rural area of Tarija.
But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Prosol has become an opportunity for illicit enrichment of public officials and private agents.
This disastrous management does not only include the period of Governor Cossio, as the arrival of Condori has not resulted in any substantive or qualitative change in the running of this Programme. Under the current interim governor there has been a notable increase in "bounty" which has increased from 2,000 bolivianos per beneficiary to 4,500 bolivianos and, in the financial year of 2013, each beneficiary will receive 6,000 bolivianos.
It is "vox populi" in the city of Tarija that the price of supplies demanded by the "beneficiaries" of Prosol increases in an arbitrary manner; all the beneficiaries in the Department almost always seek the same equipment and materials and, in addition, they do so simultaneously.
The work of the network of those technically responsible for Prosol has enabled annual requirements to be made uniform, both in consumables and livestock, all well concealed under what is described as "productive initiatives". How is it otherwise possible that there are consumables which today, in 2013, cost less than a productive initiative of Prosol in 2008?
Sadly, Prosol has only served to benefit certain sectors and we are not talking here about the large campesino majorities or the indigenous peoples; we refer to the particular sectors of supplies and public officials who serve as technical consultants and are in charge of the Programme.
Notwithstanding that Prosol arises out of a law of the Republic and that it is implemented pursuant to an executing regulation, the said regulation has been interpreted in many ways, to the extent that during the "prosol season" waves of migration take place and practically unoccupied communities flourish from new "community members". This permits the inflation of both the project costs and, as a result, the profits of the intermediaries and "promoting" agents of artificial programmes that have become of "obligatory enforcement".
Proof that these projects have produced no effect is found in the current Human Development Index for Tarija, which as shown no change despite the investment of these huge financial resources.
The manipulation of invoices, accounts and reports is another factor which has become daily practice in Prosol. The productive nature of this programme did not address day to day needs and, therefore, when the invoices reflected purchases of agricultural consumables, in practice, articles for the home were being purchased, such as stoves and gas tanks, etc; and when the invoices and reports reflected productive consumables for the development of "productive initiatives", in practice they concerned home improvements which the beneficiaries carried out; on other occasions, with the cash received they would address immediate problems.
This is all well known by both insiders and outsiders but the apathy and collusion are so extensive that those with the power to do something lack the courage to resolve the problem.
This is not only the situation with respect to consumables, but also with respect to livestock. The beneficiaries of Prosol should be considered the sector to have received the highest level of "improved" livestock" in recent years; similarly, livestock farming should be the sector with the highest growth in the Department of Tarija.
However the truth is sadly somewhat different. What has been brought in to the Department is livestock acquired from "rescatistas" (illicit dealers), without sanitary control, registration marks, or documentation to determine their legality. The only purpose for the purchase of livestock is to increase the percentage of profits, that is to say, to do the same with livestock as with consumables; there was no priority given to genetic quality, there was no repopulation plan or anything similar. The only thing that mattered was the bounty that each official or provider could obtain. The public officials themselves have been responsible for "facilitating" the purchase of livestock from these providers.
The lack of control is such that, whereas an invoice is issued in one department in Bolivia, the Schedule of Movement shows that livestock has come from another department. This might be a result of the magic of globalization or perhaps, of the blind eyes and deaf ears of the officials of Prosol who, year after year, have approved such actions so as not to "prejudice" the supposed "benefit" of the community members.
One should remember, for example, the reckless decision of Governor Lino Condori in Bermejo, when faced with pressure from the campesino organizations, he authorised the approval of Prosol 2012 notwithstanding that the files have been challenged. This happened during elections.
In the light of all this, the fact that the President of the Republic, Evo Morales Ayma has requested the audit of Prosol, should seem to be the light at the end of the tunnel. However, to avoid compliance with this order the Regional Legislative Assembly of Tarija has managed to find an endless amount of "buts" to the audit. And now, in a gesture of subordination and resolve, Interim Governor Lino Condori has ordered the audit of 8 files of Prosol whereas there are thousands which should be reviewed in order to halt the waste of resources which belong to all Bolivians but which is controlled by a few who enrich themselves from the "benefit" of the poor from the country.
From a development perspective, Prosol is and has been a unique opportunity to promote the micro-development of the campesino and indigenous communities. However, to take advantage of that opportunity, specific long-term plans should have been developed which would have provided for agrarian and livestock development.
That would require the training of agents who operate in the field, i.e. those who should advise indigenous people and campesinos on matters of development in accordance with their uses and customs and nutritional requirements of the communities themselves and in accordance with the functioning of local markets.
This has not happened. The so-called technical advisors are no more than established bureaucrats in the area who utilize Prosol as a means of purchasing goodwill in the campesino sector and of maintaining the subjugation of the indigenous sector.
In reality, Prosol as it has been implemented, looks much like a consumer subsidy programme, injecting significant amounts of money without concern for how it is spent, in a model similar to that proposed by one of the directors of the US Federal Reserve who said that money would be thrown from helicopters if that is what it took to increase consumption.
The problem is that this hyper- neoliberal model - when applied to a society of indigenous peoples, for centuries immersed in a subsistence economy, and to poor campesinos whose demands could increase exponentially - does not produce development. What it produces is inflation of food prices and of the prices of essential products. This is clearly apparent from a brief study within the city of Tarija and in any other settlement in the Department.
This inflation is produced in a rural society without means of distribution or state logistics and thus is absorbed by the small businesses with no ability to finance their growing stocks except to raise prices disproportionately. And this is happening in a non-existent financial market with credits from unregulated financial institutions (not banks) who lend in bolivianos at the modest rate of 30% .
The problem is so serious that, in the indigenous communities, direct prices have practically doubled, a situation aggravated by a system of usurious loans which are the habitual practice in a subsistence market. Thus, for example, a debt of 200 bolivianos will increase by at least 50 bolivianos for each month of non-payment.
Whilst this is going on in the view of any observer, those responsible for Prosol dedicate themselves to the extortion of the indigenous communities, to the dismantling of the communities and to attempts to replace the leaders appointed by uses and customs, in an effort which resembles a perverse colonial racism rather than any known theory of development.
If there is any doubt about this, one need only ask the nefarious Nelson Walter Ferrufino, the current director of Prosol and the officials nominated by them and it will be immediately clear that they do not even know the regulation which should be applied. Further, with no knowledge whatever of agrarian or livestock development, they are able to purchase illegal livestock and machinery.
It is possible that if at some point a professional audit were carried out pursuant to usual accounting practices, we might know why Prosol funds are used to purchase secondhand tractors, often of unknown origin, with the result that when a "zero hours", new tractor is purchased in the area of Entre Ríos (as the APG IG did), a pilgrimage is made just to see it. Because it is the first new tractor in the entire zone!
It should be made clear to the unprepared reader that the conduct of a financial audit in Tarija is perfectly possible, being a city which does not lack good professional auditors. The conduct of an audit of an entity Prosol's size might have a positive influence in capitalising those small firms which barely survive in this sector and this is also development.
[1.00 USD = 6.90964 BOB (Average exchange rate: 2013-08-05)]
[Source: By Irandey Tupapire, correspondent of Radio Nizkor in Guaye, 04Aug13]
DDHH en Bolivia
|This document has been published on 12Nov13 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|