The Association of General Contractors, Puerto Rico Chapter proposed a number of strategies to eliminate corruption in public procurement processes, including promoting legislation to ban the government from hiring newly created legal entities, without financial experience, or a history of expertise.
In a statement, Alejandro J. Abrams, president of the trade group known as AGCPR, said illegal acts can directly affect 46,000 jobs in the construction industry.
“As the organization and the main voice of construction in Puerto Rico, AGCPR reiterates its firm commitment to the reconstruction and modernization of infrastructure on the island through open and transparent processes that promote certainty, compliance with the rule of law and conditions of equality,” he said.
“We strongly reject undue influences, illegal advantages and benefits and all forms of corruption in public contracting. We reaffirm our willingness to report and collaborate in investigative processes and audits aimed at identifying illegal acts,” Abrams said.
The AGCPR’s board of directors outlined several strategies to fight corruption in government contracting, including:
- Promoting vigilant citizen participation in the processes of purchasing and acquiring goods and services with non-governmental organizations that promote access to information to create anti-corruption observatories for public works that monitor compliance with the law and access to information;
- Promoting openness and transparency mechanisms in all processes of contracting, purchasing and acquiring goods and services in the government;
- Ensuring the signing of House Bill 2112 for the centralization of the government’s general purchases under the General Services Administration;
- Establishing alliances with state and federal government to ensure the start of reconstruction works with federal funds, and CBDG-DR funds and ensure the implementation of control and surveillance mechanisms for the correct and efficient use and disbursement of such public funds;
- Promoting, through an alliance with private sector organizations and state and federal audit institutions, that all government contractors participate in mandatory training on state and federal legislation, and ethics;
- Promoting the use of proven technology for purchasing and evaluation processes, and granting permits to reduce direct contact and discretion;
- Prohibiting the payment of contingent fees for advising, managing and obtaining government contracts; and,
- Amending the penal code to apply certain crimes related to public service to the illegal conduct of contractors and subcontractors, regarding undue influences and access to confidential and privileged information to obtain unfair advantage.
“As an Association, we will continue taking the pertinent steps, at the local and federal level, to ensure the continuity of processes and works related to projects with federal funds, and under the initiative of the CBDG-DR,” he said.
“We will also reiterate our availability to support and expedite all efforts to ensure timely and agile disbursement of federal funds,” Abrams added.
“We’re well aware that any change in the schedule of the disbursement of funds and the start of the projects could have a disastrous impact, not only on the economic activity of our industry, but on the quality of life of Puerto Rico,” he said.