Public officials have been forbidden from issuing new contracts in an effort to stiffle corruption in the run-up to local elections in October.
The measure is part of the law of guarantees, an anti-corruption bill that prevents all public officials from negotiating new contracts in order to prevent incumbents from using their power to win elections.
Disaster relief for this year’s winter flooding is not covered by the contract freeze and may be used for the issuance of new contracts. Former prosecutor Bernal Cuellar said he was concerned that this money would be abused and expressed the need for tight government controls. “There are allegations that some of these [disaster relief] resources… are only going to people who will vote for a particular candidate, which is a total act of corruption,” said Bernal Cuellar. The disaster funds total nearly $1.7 billion.
The bill also prohibits candidates from participating in inauguaral ceremonies at completed projects and forbids government officials from putting pressure on subordinates to support a candidate.
State media facilities cannot be used for campaign advertising and government vehicles will be put on an austerity plan and prohibited for use in election campaigns. Government payrolls will be frozen, candidates will be forbidden from using subsidies to persuade voters, and honorable discharges or forced retirement will not occur during the pre-election period.