City paid millions to local bus companies without justification, feds say, U.S. and Italian artists paint Cuenca street scenes, Carnaval events
Hola, Todos –
De la pagina cultural –
Visiting artists – A group of 12 artists from the US and Italy are in Cuenca with the “Salinara” international art school. They are painting, mostly in watercolors, scenes in Cuenca. <We should be grateful – we can see parque Calderón, the cathedrals, rivers, and markets without having to travel thousands of miles to do so.>
Del cuerpo del periodico –
“Encuentro por Ellas” (Meeting for them (feminine)) – There will be an event el próximo 6/3 in the teatro Pumapungo, organized by Doménica Cobo, ex-queen of Cuenca, on the theme of gender rights and equality.
Carnaval – This weekend, there will be activities such as parades, and cultural and artistic events in Santa Ana, Sinincay, Octavio Cordero, Sidcay, Ricaurte, San Joaquín, El Valle, Checa y Quingeo. In urban Cuenca, the “Jueves de Compadres” will be in San Francisco Plaza. <Don’t make a dummy of yourself and ask what day that will be.>
Call for a special general meeting – The Cuenca Tenis y Golf Club will have a meeting el martes, 3/3 a las 18:00 in the Sede Social. <I think there may be a few of you golfers who are members.>
Otras cosas –
Titular – Millonario pago sin justificación (Millions paid without justification) / Municipio de Cuenca tomó presupuesto para grupos de atención prioritaria para subidio a choferes (City of Cuenca took budget for priority care groups to subsidize transport drivers) – The payment of 50% fare subsidies for the disabled, elderly and students has been suspended after the Comptroller General of Ecuador issued a report saying that the City of Cuenca was not justified in paying some $5 million to the Concuenca consortium. The report indicated that the City should never have assumed this subsidy payment and added that it couldn’t verify if the subsidy actually went these vulnerable groups. Manolo Solís, president of the Cámara de Transporte de Cuenca (CTC) maintained that the subsidy for half fares has been budgeted to pay for loans on the new bus fleet.
The half fare is enshrined in the law so it was never necessary for the local government to pay it. A legal specialist explained it’s possible to establish “glosas” (gloss/ comment?) against the previous mayor and his officials, and if the mayor thought he was right, then the city should have paid the 50% discount to movies, airlines or other private entities as well which is absurd. The report said the City made an agreement with Concuenca to assume payment of 50% of the fares which up to 2016, had been the responsibility of the national government. The feds paid $600 a month to every trunk line bus and $350 to other buses. The city paid $600 a month to every one of the 475 buses under a contract renewable every 10 months.
To support receiving the subsidy, in 2016, the CTC reported that 27.33% of the users fell into the priority groups, but without providing backup documentation. In 2017 the CTC changed the percentage into a number – 443,175 users paid a half fare in a period of 40 days. But that represented $57,625 in unjustified payments. It then projected that 15 million subsidized rides had been paid for – about $2 million in a period of 140 days, but the Comptroller couldn’t find support for that either. The CTC also used the issuance of 63,000 yellow bus cards as justification, but couldn’t prove how many times they were used. In the 3d contract renewal in 2018, it projected 3,247,267 passengers in a 140 day period, again without back-up data.
At a hearing with the Comptroller’s Office in 2019, the CTC asserted that 370,025 people had benefited from the subsidy in 2016. But according to current municipal data, there were 16,685 disabled, 24,691 seniors, and 82,743 students for a total of 124,119 people eligible for the subsidy, and not all of them rode buses. In total, between 2016 and 2018, the City paid $4,203,750 to the transportistas without knowing if that money was used to pay for the half fares. An additional $897,750 payment was made to the CTC in diciembre, 2018. The money had not been budgeted and was taken out of funds for Desarrollo Social (Social Development) which serves priority groups, and wound up in the hands of the transportistas. <Time to think about a real public transportation system, owned by the public instead of a transportista mafia that provides bad service, uses buses as pinball machines with passengers as the pinballs, and even kills a passenger every once in a while.>
Café – “VAM Café” is being produced by the Vicaría Apostólica de Méndez (Apostolic Vicar of Méndez) in Morona Santiago as a way to help small coffee growers and energize the economy with a quality product. The vicarage’s farm is in the Río Blanco parish and growers are learning from technicians how to cultivate the coffee plants without chemicals and only organic products. VAM Café is negotiating with businesses in Azuay and in Quito to sell the coffee, and is producing either 1,500 or 7.000 <depending on if you read the headline or the body of the article> one pound bags each month.
Perú – A witness testified that ex-president Ollanat Humala (2011-2016) received between $16-18 million in bribes to give construction projects to a group of businesses. He is already under investigation for taking bribes from Odebrecht for the Gasoducto del Sur in 2014 <I wonder if that project is already falling apart like Ecuador’s poliducto project.> Now Humala is suspected of being part of the “Club de la Construction,” composed of an old school friend and that buddy’s brother who was Humala’s Minister of Transport and Communications. The money was delivered to his office in the Palacio de Gobierno in suitcases at night. <I guess that much money won’t fit into an envelope.>
And that’s all for today so hasta ? –