Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's About the Governance

The establishment of a commission to lead the reconstruction of eathquake areas of southern Peru hit its first bureaucratic snags almost straight away.

Prior to the Peruvian congress approving the creation of the independent body dubbed 'Forsur', the presidents of two of the three affected regions voiced their objections. President of Ica Romulo Triveño and Huancavelica's Federico Salas argued that Forsur was against the spirit of decentalization policies, and that reconstruction should be managed by regional governments.

Others expressed unease that the business members of the executive council of Forsur would not be considered public servants, and that Forsur would be able to contract directly for goods and services, bypassing normal tendering processes. This, said La Republica, was to 'confuse the emergency stage - - when such a measure is justified -- and reconstruction, which is assessed over three to four years'

At least one blogger also raised concerns about the reconstruction 'tsar', businessman Julio Favre, who sounds something like a Peruvian Bob Jones. Some past quotes:

'If I had to choose between giving work to 60o and saving 4 herons, I'd choose giving work to 600'

'It was really Marxist front organisations that were behind the protest' (speaking about a march against corruption led by Lima's archbishop).

Regarding the reconstruction project, Favre --who will receive no direct remuneration for his role -- said that 'if we follow all the bureaucratic processes we'll be starting the construction in two years, and we want to [finish] it in one year'.

In eventually approving the creation of Forsur on Tuesday evening, Congress struck a compromise. It agreed that Forsur will be able to contract directly for the removal of rubble and rehabilitation of basic infrastructure such as water and drainage, while other, non-emergency contracting will be carried out transparently through an 'abbreviated purchasing mechanism'. The directorship of the independent body will comprise three regional presidents, four provincial mayors, six ministers, and four businessman. It will be based in Ica.

This still didn't satisfy Ica president Triveño, who is planning to present a consitutional claim against the creation of Forsur on the grounds that it replicates the functions of an already-created regional organisation.

Bureaucratic tangles aside, what is happening on the ground to assist people who lost their homes and possessions in the quake?

-- The government will allocate 23 million soles ($7 million USD) to supply warm clothing, food and water for the victims of the quake. This will be managed by the United Nations World Food Programme, which will be in charge of acquiring, packing and delivering the supplies

-- 400 emergency wawa wasis (creches) will be established in the affected zones to look aftter 4,000 children between the ages of three months and four years.

-- Venezuela has sent 200 prefabricated emergency houses, and Chile 100 more

Minister of Labor Susana Pinilla announced that the Construyendo Peru programme, in which people affected by the quake are being temporarily employed to clear up the rubble, is likely to be extended from 8,000 to 12,000 jobs

-- but the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders say there are still 'dozens' of small rural communities that have not received any aid, 10 days after the quake, and people are sleeping outside without any shelter and barely any food or water

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