Beginning today and closing on May 28, the Mexican Senate will be debating on the regulations of what may become the new National Anti-Corruption System (SNA).
According to Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) President Manlio Fabio Beltrones, the first part of this very complicated and delicate document should be ready by April 30 when the Senate’s first 2016 period of sessions comes to an end.
Once this first step is complied with, the regulations will be sent to the Chamber of Deputies for final approval, as it was stipulated and approved by both houses of Congress last May 2015.
The tone of the pressure has increased recently since a group of non-government organizations first introduced the 3by3 bill, which forces an end to official and private corruption with three basic demands. Two weeks ago the groups sent to the Senate 294,000 valid signatures backed by Mexican registered voters. But to prove how serious people are about ending the nefarious and cynical corruption among mostly public officials, the people concerned with the issue sent over 300,000 more signed sheets to the Senate last week.
Detractors of PRI’s Manlio Fabio Beltrones as well as the Green Party claim that these senators, who hold a slight majority in both houses of Congress, fear that their proposals may increase the legal weaknesses that have made previous anti-corruption legislation come crashing down.
The 3by3 bill proposed by the people may be a naive simplification of lawmaking and beginning today discussions are stranded as different factions can’t come to terms with the structure of the system and the role society will have in it, plus the upfront demand that public servants make their fortunes public, including proof of tax compliance.
Easier said than done, particularly in a political system infamous for being rotten to the roots.
Several dozen scholars specializing in the issue, which they call the Network for Accounting Rendition, (RRC) have criticized PRI’s Beltrones because the mechanisms his party offers to guarantee coordination among government secretariats, if passed as proposed, would not be legally feasible.
The legal wording of the final regulations is a delicate job, says Prof. Guillermo Cejudo, a researcher for the Economics Teaching Research Center (CIDE).
“It requires a very fine and complex threading of needlework among many institutions, laws and procedures, because, as in every system, each part must work well and besides, there has to be interconnection among regulations. What does this mean? That if one of the venues fails, the system as a whole will not comply with its purpose.”
A must in all this, which many a senator objects to, will be the importance of the Citizen Participation Committee which, if left marginal in the regulations, it could play a mere “testimonial and discreet” role, says Cejudo.
A key issue at hand is also who will be the internal comptrollers within the Network for Rendition Accounting because they will have the power to dictate whether a detected act of corruption is a criminal act or not.
National University juridical researcher Daniel Marquez warns about the sheer size of the job at hand.
“Suppose there are, at least, 1.4 million public servants forced to present their income, properties and tax reports, multiply that by three and we’re going to have 1.2 million documents. Is there capacity to process that?”
Today the Senate Committees participating in the National Anti-Corruption Law will be meeting with the NGOs that proposed the 3by3 bill to “revise article by article” before writing the draft that will be approved by the Senate and proposed to the Chamber of Deputies.
This was a bill originally proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto, but at the time of the proposal citizen participation was nil, but now, with the meddling of the 3by3 civilians it remains to be seen what will be left of Peña Nieto’s original document.
But it’s a historic moment to have, once and for all, control over rampant official corruption.