Kuczynski vows to fight corruption

24 October 2016

Still reeling from the corruption scandal created by his former health advisor, Carlos Moreno, Kuczynski announced five measures on 17 October to fight corruption nationwide. This had been a key priority in his address to the nation on 28 July. But barely three months later, he faces a crisis of confidence on this matter. Many perceive his choice of Moreno as an advisor as deeply problematic. The Fujimorista opposition has lost no time in pointing this out, shifting attention away from its own shady record in this respect. http://www.americatv.com.pe/noticias/actualidad/ppk-anuncio-medidas-combatir-corrupcion-caso-moreno-n251098

The first measure the president announced was the reorganisation of his own office. Kuczynski gave assurances that every person working for him would be thoroughly evaluated to ensure that they had no links corruption. Apart from the Moreno affaire, Kuczynski has accepted the resignations of two other advisors, José Laban and Jorge Villacorta, accused of charging money to would-be candidates for places on the Peruanos por el Kambio (PPK) parliamentary list. Working practices are to be revised and new guidelines for appointments put in place.

Secondly, all those surrounding each minister will be evaluated. Kuczynski had already asked each of to follow seven ‘commandments’: you will be incorruptible, modest, accessible, know Peru well, be prepared to travel outside Lima, and look after your ministry and not others. If in doubt, ministers were to check with the president or the prime minister, take things calmly and pray.

The third initiative is to approve a new law, known as ‘civil death for the corrupt’. Under this, anyone convicted of gaining financially or abusing their position within the state will be barred from public employment for life. This was an idea put forward during the election campaign, notably by the Frente Amplio’s Marisa Glave. It had been debated by the previous parliament but not approved because of lack of support from the pro-Fujimori Fuerza Popular (FP) grouping. Kuczynski is hopeful that it will now become law, one of the promises he made in his 28 July speech.

Fourthly, Kuczynski says he will bring together the presidents of the executive, legislature and judiciary to create a Council of State to fight corruption. To this end, he has called upon Luz Salgado (the president of Congress) and Victor Lucas Ticona (of the judiciary) to work directly with him to fight corruption. Salgado has declared that she welcomed this, but noted that so far Congress has yet to receive proposals from the executive, whilst pointing to 21 bills to tackle corruption proposed by members of parliament. http://larepublica.pe/politica/813081-luz-salgado-le-pide-ppk-que-promulgue-ya-decretos-legislativos-de-lucha-anticorrupcion

Finally, the president promises to create a presidential commission to deal with corruption. The commission will report directly to him, and will propose laws and administrative reforms to this end. The commission will be led by Eduardo Vega, the former ombudsman, and will report back in 45 days. Vega has promised to deliver in this time frame.

Corruption is endemic in Peru, and the office of the presidency has been linked to corruption scandals ever since Alan García’s first period in government (1985-1990). Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), who is currently in jail for human rights abuses, pleaded guilty during his trial to corruption and was convicted for such crimes.

Presidents Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), Alan García (2006-2011) and Ollanta Humala (2011-2016) have all faced accusations of corruption and embezzlement. Kuczynski has vowed not to add his name to this list and to combat corruption at every level. It remains to be seen if he can disassociate his government from the corrupt influences that permeate the state.

In the days following Kuczynski’s announcement, Salgado voiced criticisms and refused to attend a meeting with the president for the proposed Council of State. She claims that there is no constitutional mandate for such an office, that its creation is part of a presidential manoeuvre to resolve the issue of corruption in his own administration, and that Congress has nothing to add. She has invited Prime Minister Fernando Zavala to make a statement on the proposals before a congressional plenary instead.

Her reluctance to participate in this initiative has aroused renewed scrutiny over her own past and her presence on video recordings in meetings with Vladimiro Montesinos. Allegations have been made in the press that the real reason for her unwillingness to be part of the Council is that FP is reliant on advisers and others with highly questionable records. One such is FP’s principal campaign financier, Joaquín Ramírez, who is under judicial investigation for money laundering. He was back in the news last week for failing to turn up in court. http://chicharron.utero.pe/2016/10/21/cuales-son-las-verdaderas-razones-de-luz-salgado-para-no-acudir-al-consejo-de-estado-convocado-por-ppk/

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