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The Mexican Institute of Competitiveness (IMCO) revealed that Banco del Bienestar, one of the emblematic institutions of the current administration, is lagging and questionable due to the lack of transparency in the management of public procurement, as well as planning for the misuse of resources and a lot of obfuscation.

By revealing the results of a study of the banking institution set up by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, as a priority project to enhance the access of vulnerable populations to financial services, facilitate the dispersal of economic support from the government, and ensure Mexican residents’ access to remittances, IMCO exposed many irregularities that result from the failure to Achieved construction goal last year, which was to have 2,700 branches.

He questioned this delay because in the project plans, it is proposed by 2023 to build 2,744 branches across the country when what was promised last year did not materialize.

The State Department International Maritime reported that 55% of the branches are under construction or not yet built. According to the stated goal, Sedena should build 2,700 branches by the end of 2021. However, as of February 2022, only 1,212 branches have been built. The level of underdevelopment varies across the country. The states with the highest building lag are Jalisco (80%), Quintana Roo (79%), Guerrero (78%), and Niñait (70%); Whereas in Baja California Sur (0%), Sinaloa (22%), Zacatecas (22%) and Durango (26%) all or most of the projected branches have been built.

The study highlights that the proposed goal was to increase financial inclusion among the at-risk population, but it is not possible to define a specific criterion for assessing compliance with this goal. To date, there are none of the Banco de Bienestar branches of the 26 municipalities in the country with the highest percentage of residents living in poverty.

In connection with the general procurement of the Bank and Sedina, insufficient planning was revealed in the equipment of the branches.

“The high amount contracted by direct award and contract cancellation of more than 27 billion pesos for the purchase of ATMs and transaction banking services generates additional costs and reflects poor resource management.”

The institute discovered that Sedena, as the executor of the bank’s expansion plan, had acquired the goods for all the branches without being fully built. “This indicates a lack of coordination in their work: the pace of construction, slower than planned, was not consistent with the dynamics of public procurement of branch equipment.”

There is on average less than one person per operating branch, lack of planning and project management affects the workforce as there are 674 people responsible for attending all branches, which is a small number of employees when looking at the currently operating branches.

In addition, there is ambiguity in the public information because data on expenditure on branch construction is not available because although the public contracts executed by Sedena refer to the purchase of equipment, it is necessary to know what was spent 74% of the budget allocated to building the branches.

The think tank noted that although there is an obligation to publish information on public procurement in the National Transparency Platform and in the Kumprant, the level of document dissemination is insufficient.

Proof of this is that 49% of Sedena contracts and 26% of Banco del Bienestar contracts in 2021 were not posted on official public procurement platforms, which means a violation of the Transparency Act.

“The Banco del Bienestar project reflects information irregularities, build-in forced marches, contract cancellations, corruption risks in the procurement of goods and services, rising costs and operational challenges,” IMCO said.

Faced with this scenario, he proposed creating realistic and detailed plans that include cost-benefit assessments, estimated amounts and delivery dates, making public procurement contracts transparent, as well as ensuring that agreements between public institutions are regulated by law, and in any case, it is an exception process like direct award or restricted invitation .

Similarly, create a Purchase ID for each priority project and expand the available information and facilitate registration in the Government Supplier Register.

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