Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 267 | Octubre 2003




Envío team


Nicaragua obtained only a 2.6 rating in Transparency International’s 2003 Corruption Perception Index. Nicaragua is 88th among the 133 countries in which the organization surveyed the public’s perception of state corruption and 10th among the 17 Latin American nations included. In presenting these results, the Nicaraguan civic watchdog group called Ethics and Transparency offered the following appraisal:
“Apart from the well-known judicial cases that involve corruption syndicates in public administration, which for the most part are still unresolved and are subject to enormous ups and downs, shady negotiations and uncertainties about their development and conclusion, there are no major elements of systemic change. Nor is there any real evidence in the past year of tangible and sustainable improvements in the independence of the branches of state, the administration of justice, institutionality or electoral transparency, to name but a few of the deficiencies widely accepted as key to the corruption for some time now.”
The organization also referred to the issue of government mega-salaries: “All the institutions are ignoring the call by the citizenry, widely known abroad, to moderate or even legislate the allowances and privileges of government officials.” President Bolaños, meanwhile, sought to downplay the results of the Transparency International study.


A delegation from mainland China visited Nicaragua in early September at the invitation of the FSLN leadership. It expressed an interest in helping finance the building of an inter-oceanic canal through Nicaragua and other investments in fishing, timber, transport, housing and hydroelectricity for a combined value of US$20 billion. The canal, which would reportedly be able to handle 250,000-ton ships, would be designed by those responsible for the largest engineering project in the world—the “Three Throats” dam on the Yangtze River. According to Samuel Santos, the FSLN’s international relations secretary, the investment would come from China and business leaders from other countries, “so that the canal would be the property of the world, the patrimony of humanity and a symbol of peace.”


The government finally presented its National Development Plan (PND) on September 12, as a “proposal” to be studied and agreed to by all national sectors. The plan, which would supposedly cover the next 25 years, only details the infrastructure works (highways, ports and airports) and social projects (housing, social security, health and education) to be implemented between 2004 and 2008. It involves nearly 7,000 public investment projects for the same number of localities, all of which were part of a Territorial Plan that was never implemented. It is not clear what resources will be used to implement such a sizable list of investments, particularly considering the fiscal restrictions imposed on the government by the International Monetary Fund’s plans, which seriously restrict its room for maneuver. The PND also includes institutional reforms, particularly transformations within the judicial and electoral branches, as key elements of national development.

It is in this last area that the PND will come up against the greatest obstacles, as was immediately demonstrated by the declarations of the people who head those branches, which are controlled by the FSLN and PLC caudillos, who are both opposed to the government.

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