By MARK LORENZANA
The Mexican government has just created three new trust funds, or “fideicomisos,” despite a decree by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in March of 2020 ordering the “extinction” of 109 trust funds to combat corruption.
The beneficiaries of the three new discretionary trust funds created by the executive branch — without going through Congress — are the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) and the Tax Administrative Service (SAT). These three trust funds have already totaled 25.8 billion pesos at the end of June of this year, almost 4 billion pesos more than the 22 billion pesos combined amount of the original 109 trust funds that were extinguished in 2020.
María Elena Álvarez Buylla, head of Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), reported on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 9, during López Obrador’s daily press conference at the National Palace, that the 22 billion pesos from the 109 extinguished trust funds have already been reintegrated into the Treasury. It was Álvarez Buylla who advocated strongly for the termination of the trusts, ever since she assumed the position of head of Conacyt in December 2019. A fiscal report in 2020, however, found that Álvarez-Buylla Roces had herself received 17 million pesos from a trust fund grant: Between 2003 and 2015, she had received financing for her own research projects.
The Mexican Navy has already used 66.7 million pesos from its trust fund for dredging work in Port Chiapas — a port in Puerto de San Benito in the southernmost Mexican state of Chiapas — according to a quarterly report of the Mexican Finance Secretariat, which it submitted to Congress.
Treasury Undersecretary Gabriel Yorio stated in July 29 of this year that the Mexican government’s “new stage of austerity,” described by López Obrador as “Franciscan poverty,” will include a new “trust sweep.”