Through a new study, the Council of the Judiciary carefully analyzed the works executed in the country and the values paid between September 2011 and January 2014. The document concludes that of the 87 contracts for construction or adaptation of judicial units signed in During that period, 56 showed increases in values with respect to the initial amounts.
Theincreases range from 4% to 61% of the value of the original contract. In moneymeans payments for an additional USD 41.5 million. Among the causes that led tothis increase are new work orders, increase of items and complementary works.
The report of the Judiciary indicates that these increases were executed without technical support, without having certified whether or not resources exist and violating the Law on the Public Procurement System.
Forexample, in art. 88 of that norm indicates that the increase of works oradditional items may not exceed 25% with respect to the original contract. Inthe case of the Council of the Judiciary, of the 57 works that had increases,seven present major problems.
Thesebuildings just have items that exceed 25%. These are: the judicial units ofLatacunga (Cotopaxi), Paute (Azuay), Cayambe (Pichincha), Caluma (Bolívar) andPortoviejo (Manabí). And the courts that operate in the building of the StockExchange of Guayaquil and the Albán Borja shopping center, in that same city of Guayas.
The Judiciary has already sent this information to the Office of the Prosecutor and the Comptroller’s Office. The latter institution requested a special examination to determine whether or not there was a possible surcharge during previous administrations.
For Marcelo Merlo, president of the current Judicature, these procedures outside the Procurement Law were made in a context in which justice was declared in emergency. “It is important to remember what happened between 2011 and 2013, because that declaration is the basis with which it was allowed to hire on a finger.”
He explained that the payment agreements are instruments of exception and “they can be used only once. It should also analyze the legality, how they were signed, “he said.
Another problem detected by the auditors is that in the archives of the institution there are only 29 payment agreements that support the reasons for which new items were given. In the other cases it was done without the endorsement. Most of the additional items have already been canceled, but there is currently a debt with the contractors for USD 13.8 million. This newspaper searched the judicial authorities, but did not respond to email or phones.
In addition to the constructions, the auditors also found anomalies in 56 consulting contracts that were developed based on two groups related to the terms of reference, when at least 20 terms are applied in regular terms.
In this case, for example, conditions such as the accredited experience of contractors in other projects of equal or greater value were excluded. In addition, it was also found that during the period of Carlos Pólit in front of the Comptroller’s Office this body has already carried out special examinations of the financial, contractual, enforcement and pre-contractual processes of some judicial buildings.
However, despite finding anomalies, did not qualify as criminal evidence. An example of this is the examination for the construction of the Judicial Complex of Babahoyo, in Los Ríos, in 2011. In that examination it was detailed that the Judiciary contracted a company to carry out soil studies for that project.
But this agency did not take into account that in the contract 108-2011, signed on October 26, 2011, soil studies were already included. “What caused the entity to have disbursed resources for USD 4 930 for this contract, which was already requested.” In this case, the auditors concluded that the principle of opportunity was affected.
The current Judicature indicates that it also detected that “many of the projects were started without having soil studies, construction permits, and environmental permits or with the title of ownership of the land where they were to be built”.
For example, in the neighborhood of La Pulida, in the north of Quito, civil works were advanced on a plot of 81 hectares. But in 2014 the work was definitively suspended, because the Judiciary did not have the permits.
According to José Cisneros, coordinator of Infrastructure of the Judiciary, this led to legal problems with contractors, delays and suspensions in the execution of the works; in addition to the increase in costs.
Another problem that arose from the lack of studies is that there are currently empty buildings or where fewer officials work than expected. The Judicial Unit of Work, Tenancy, Neighborhood and Civil Relations, located in Calle Manuel Larrea and in the center of Quito, is uninhabited. This building was built in 2012 and was occupied until 2017.
This year the Judicial Unit Against Organized Crime was scheduled to operate, in which cases of terrorism or serious crimes, such as the car bomb attack in San Lorenzo, would be processed. But the project has been suspended since May, because the creation of that judicial unit is in consultation with the Constitutional Court and its judges must rule.
On May7, 2011, in a referendum, the Judicial Branch emerged. From that date until2013 USD 304 million were used. In the 2014-2016 period, for the “judicialmodernization” USD 200 million more were delivered. (I)