The CNE is asking for US$ 513 million under 2005 budget|
Chávez' spoiled kids
Comparisons are always hideous, so let's get into the facts:
amid the euphoria that followed the victory of President Hugo
Chávez-backed candidates in recent regional and local
election -held in October 31-, the National Assembly's Finance
Committee, in a very generous and swift move, passed some
20 additional loans amounting to VEB 1.9 trillion (US$ 991
It is hard to understand why the retired people have to wait 12 years to collect a pension, or why only now VEB 130.9 billion (US$ 68.3 million) have been earmarked to pay a debt with university teachers that dates back to 2003, or why "emergency boards" have to be established to make the government disburse funds for public health care centers -cut off from funds because of political reasons. Why it all happens in a country where money for specific purposes flows swiftly and timely?
The Electoral Power is a conspicuous example of the priorities the revolutionary government of President Chávez has. Jorge Rodríguez' and Francisco Carrasquero's CNE was granted a VEB 150 billion (US$ 78 million) budget in 2004 to complete their mission at the CNE, and they invested more than US$ 100 million in the magic electoral solutions of IT firm Smartmatic and other IT artifices.
Under a previous board of directors -the one that approved
a consultative referendum on President Chávez' mandate
that was never carried out-, the CNE was denied any funds.
The present CNE, whose automated crafts have taken Chávez
supporters to claim victory once and again, never gets a no
for an answer -just like ruling party MVR top leader William
Lara when he files any claim with the Supreme Tribunal of
Insatiable, the CNE always wants more. Besides entering into a service agreement with questioned Smartmatic -without a bidding-, during the regional and local election, the CNE spent more than US$ 25 million in services from telephone firm Cantv; US$ 20 million for satellite transmission of data from fingerprint capture machines, and other US$ 15 million to purchase other 3,500 automated voting machines from Smartmatic. In total, they have spent 60 million greenbacks in a process in which most Venezuelans did not and do not believe -not to repeat the commonplace that the October 31 election saw "a historical abstention rate."
Rodríguez, a psychiatrist, has still another mission to complete -with help from Smartmatic-, to have Hugo Chávez re-elected in 2006.
So, this spoiled public power is asking for more. Under 2005 budget, the CNE has requested over VEB 984.2 billion (US$ 513.1 million), including "ordinary resources for the operation of this agency, and the resources necessary to carry out any scheduled electoral processes," namely, elections for National Assembly parliamentarians, town council members and parish boards.
In order to move forward with automation, the CNE estimates
it will need VEB 183.1 billion (US$ 95.6 million), out of
a VEB 366.2 billion (US$ 191.2 million) item for electoral
processes, including VEB 25 billion (US$ 13 million) in productivity
Besides, the Electoral Power no longer fits its current headquarters. In the draft 2005 budget, the directors of the CNE say they need a new building, claiming that "insecurity is a permanent threat around the place (where the CNE headquarters are located now), while utilities, such as electricity, water, and sewage have collapsed."
The illustrious electoral arbiters do not want to continue working in these poor conditions, and therefore they have asked for VEB 66 billion (US$ 34.4 million) to purchase a fitting base of operations. They are also requesting VEB 1.5 billion (US$ 783,290) to purchase land and build regional headquarters nationwide.
In October, the National Assembly passed an additional credit for the Electoral Power amounting to VEB 224 billion (US$ 116.9 million) "earmarked for the technological modernization that is necessary to guarantee electoral processes in every phase." In this case, technology meant vehicles, as VEB 5 billion (US$ 2.6 million) was devoted to purchase new cars for the CNE.
Apparently the CNE officials like to have a new car every
year: they are asking for a further VEB 4.3 billion (US$ 2.2
million) to purchase brand-new vehicles.
Translated by Maryflor Suárez
|Copyright @ Diario El Universal C.A. 2004|