The coronavirus crisis has been the perfect setting for some public officials to pilfer government resources.
The allegations of corruption have their epicenter in the government office of Strategic Investments (Invest-H), which according to some civil society organizations, such as the National Anti-Corruption Council (CNA), bought overpriced medical products and supplies from domestic business owners.
This public agency spent 1.7 billion lempiras for the purchase of five mobile hospitals that will arrive in the country at the end of June. This determination has been strongly questioned, because intermediaries and companies of dubious reputation were used for their purchase.
“It is not possible for us to respond to this pandemic by buying disposable things, of which I will have to store later on, when we could have spent 1,700 million strengthening the San Felipe Hospital and the Thorax Hospital with infrastructure and equipment. We did not do well, we did not ask those who know, we did not try to invent, we told people from Copeco and Invest-H to take the role of others who are actually experts and who know what has to be done,” questioned Dr. Henry Andino, consultant to the World Bank on the subject of Covid-19.
However, not only in the purchase of mobile hospitals were irregularities detected, but their installation will also result in an outlay of more than 57 million lempiras.
This is revealed by a set of documents with more than 300 pages to which EL PULSO had exclusive access.
As it was a state emergency, the contracts were awarded directly to construction companies.
The government plans to install mobile hospitals in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Juticalpa, Danlí, Choluteca, Santa Rosa de Copán and La Ceiba.
As if it were some game of chance, Invest-H awarded million-lempira contracts to construction and supervision companies in less than a week.
Of the total amount, more than 49 million lempiras were earmarked to pay for construction work, while another eight million lempiras went to companies supervising the works.
EL PULSO tried to contact Invest-H head Marco Bográn to get a response. However, he didn´t answer our phone calls and messages.
The first contract identified in the amount of 10,000,000 lempiras was awarded to Maquinaria y Proyectos S.A. de C.V. (MYPSA), which will be in charge of building the main facility and installation of the 91-bed mobile isolation hospital.
A second construction contract, No. CD-DCPV-114-2020, was awarded to a company called Servicios de Mantenimiento y Construcción S.A. de C.V. (SERMACO). This contract is worth 10,000,000 lempiras.
SERMACO will be in charge of the construction works of the main facility and provide support in the installation of a 91-bed mobile isolation hospital in the city of San Pedro Sula, to address the matter of the declaration of the Covid-19 health emergency.
The works will consist of, among other things, pouring a concrete slab of the appropriate thickness, between 10 and 15 centimeters.
The contract, identified as No. CD-DCPV-116-2020, will be financed with funds allocated to Invest-H to tackle the pandemic.
SERMACO was also awarded contract CD-DCPV-124-2020 in the amount of 8,000,000 lempiras for the construction of the main facility and to provide support in the installation of the 51-bed mobile isolation hospital in the city of Danlí to address the matter of the declaration of the health emergency.
The same company was awarded contract CD-DCPV-126-2020 in the amount of 5,000,000 lempiras for the construction of the main facility and to provide support in the installation of a 51-bed mobile isolation hospital in the city of Santa Rosa de Copan.
SERMACO is known for signing million-lempira contracts with the government.
It has been in the process of building low bridges or underpasses in the city of San Pedro Sula and La Democracia bridge in El Progreso, Yoro.
In addition, the company was in charge of the works for strengthening pier 5 of the container terminal in Puerto Cortés.
Also, it was in charge of construction of the Pacific corridor.
A final contract was awarded to Constructora Serrano Colindres y Asociados S. de R. L. (COSCO) for the construction of the main facility and installation of the 51-bed mobile insolation hospital in the city of La Ceiba.
This contract is worth 8,000,000 lempiras.
COSCO will also be in charge of the installation of the mobile hospital in Juticalpa, Olancho. The value of this contract is 8,000,000 lempiras.
Invest-H also hired six consulting companies to supervise the construction works of the facilities that amount to more than eight million lempiras in total.
In addition, L1,447,158.70 was disbursed to Consultores Asociados de Honduras, S. de R. L. (CONASH) to supervise construction of the main facility and installation of the 91-bed mobile isolation hospital in Tegucigalpa.
In Danlí, the company that will supervise the work is Servicios Técnicos de Construcción y Consultoría, S. de R.L. de C.V. (SETCCO), which was favored with a contract worth L 1,201,386.76.
Gabinete Técnico S.A. de C.V. (GATESA) will be in charge of supervising construction work in San Pedro Sula, at a cost of L 1,328,659.92.
In the city of Choluteca, Asociación de Consultores en Ingeniería, S. de R.L. (ACI) was contracted by Invest-H to supervise work for the construction of the main facility and installation of a 91-bed mobile isolation hospital, receiving L 1,328,659.92.
Ingenieros Consultores (Inconsul) will receive 2.4 million lempiras for two contracts to supervise works in the mobile hospitals to be installed in La Ceiba and Atlántida. Each contract is worth 1.2 million lempiras.
Finally, the supervision contract for the construction of the main facility and to provide support for the installation of the 51-bed mobile isolation hospital in Santa Rosa de Copán was awarded to Consultores en Ingeniería S.A. de C.V. (CINSA). This contract is worth 1,201,386.76 lempiras.
In view of these situations, various sectors of society have asked for the resignation of Marco Bográn, who serves as the director of Invest-H.
The representative of the Social Forum of External Debt and Development of Honduras (Fosdeh), Ismael Zepeda, pointed out that, given that “so much has emerged from Invest, for ethical reasons Marco Bográn should resign due to mismanagement, that little by little the irrational use of resources is coming to light.”
For his part, political analyst and former deputy of the National Congress, Raúl Pineda Alvarado, said that the behavior of officials is forcing the president to take drastic measures because if he does not, he becomes an accessory after the fact of acts that should really put the public administration to shame.
Banker and businessman Jorge Bueso Arías stated that “corruption here continues to take advantage of the opportunity it has to enrich a few.”
He added that he was surprised that the National Congress authorized entities such as Invest-H and Copeco to buy medical supplies and equipment to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.
“I was very surprised and after analyzing the situation I see that there is a dangerous and dubious scheme: why has Congress authorized institutions other than the Ministry of Health to purchase medicines? Why was the Ministry of Health not authorized to make emergency purchases?” he asked.