Colombia’s Finance Minister on Wednesday said multiple government agencies have embezzled close to $4.5 million intended for public works that have never been completed.
According to Minister Mauricio Cardenas, some government entities have “inflate[d] the numbers of projects [project estimates]“, then, instead of paying contractors to do the job, the money is placed in trust funds “to appear [like the] public resources [were] execut[ed], when the reality is that the works have not been done.”
Cardenas called this practice even more unacceptable considering the government “has given special emphasis [to] the [proper] execution of works which were structured in the [administration's] first two years.”
Colombia’s Comptroller General added that the $4.5 million was supposed to be spent on “roads, aqueducts, schools, hospitals, increasing access to education and expanding health[care] coverage…but [the money has] never been used and [is] dammed in unprofitable trusts, and…[is also being used to] pay administration costs.”
The Comptroller used the Department of Water as an example, where more than $650,000 was given to the department for aqueduct construction which has yet to be built.
Cardenas said the culpable government agencies have been given an ultimatum to either use the funds as they were intended or return the money to the Ministry of Finance.