Photo: Deposit Photos

By KELIN DILLON

Three years after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) ordered the cancellation of the New Mexico City International Airport’s (NAICM) construction in Texcoco, the Superior Audit of the Federation (ASF) has given three different estimated reports of the cancellation’s cost, with no clear resolution on the project’s final price tag, leading to skepticism of the institution’s current credibility and trustworthiness..

A recently released report by the ASF called the “Report on the Inspection of the International Airport of Mexico in Texcoco and Its Cancellation Process (2014-2019)” that put the cancellation cost at 184.5 billion pesos; back in February 2021, the ASF had estimated the cost at 331.9 billion pesos, more than 100 billion pesos higher than current figures.

In February’s 1394-DE audit of the 2019 Public Account, the ASF found that 163.5 billion pesos were lost by the NAICM’s cancellation for non-recoverable expenses like contracts, legal costs and liquidation of stock certificates, with another 168.4 billion pesos in cost for contracts pending settlement, the cancellation of bonds and trials and lawsuits currently in process.

Following AMLO’s public outrage surrounding the figure’s “exaggeration,” the ASF reduced the estimated cancellation cost originally determined in February 2021 to 113.2 billion pesos in total.

With three different estimates determined at separate times, with varying degrees of outside interference, experts now warn the ASF’s credibility is in jeopardy, since no clear consensus has yet been reached.

“We have a disaster in this regard, which undermines the credibility of the audit’s work, which has been unable to account for the mistakes that had been made at the beginning and where those mistakes were,” said Marco Fernández, researcher at the School of Government at Tec de Monterrey, who went on to question the Chamber of Deputies’ lack of intervention on the subject.

“It is not only the problem of the audit, it is the problem of the legislators, who do not assume their work,” said Fernández. “Where is the Evaluation and Control Unit of the Surveillance Commission to review how the calculations of the audit were made in the cancellation of the airport? That seems very serious to me.” 

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