Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Catalan "consultant reports" corruption scandal news: The 1583 reports were commissioned by the Catalan government in 2007 alone. They include a one-page report billed at €11,999 (€12,000 is the line above which government contracts are subject to competitive bidding), many reports cut-and-pasted from Internet, and many invoices made out blank, without the recipient's name appearing on the bill.

Others include a €28,000 report on a species of clam, a €11,965 report on the cultivation of tiger nuts ("chufas"), and a €150,000 37-page report on Chinese culture.

And there are those damn tiger nuts again.

Among the "consultants" paid are the former Communist deputy in the Catalan parliament, Bet Font, and ERC Girona leader Enric Pujol Casanovas. Health counselor Marina Geli paid €29,999 in advance for a report on family medicine and €11,999 to create a "virtual library." Neither report has yet been received.

CiU says that during its last year in power, 2003, it paid consultants €67 million, while in 2007 the Pink-Red-Brown-Green Tripartite coalition paid them €317 million.

La Vanguardia buried this story on Page 16, giving it about a quarter of a page. And, get this, it's not even on their website, so I can't link to it. I'm appalled but not surprised, since La Vanguardia is also part of the Catalan influence-peddling endogamic system of political machine clientelism. I wish La Vangua would publicly announce how much money it receives from local and regional governments for the thousands of subscriptions they buy; I will bet they pay for at least 10,000, and maybe double that. A yearly subscription to La Vangua costs €360, so you do the math.

In addition, neither El Periodico, nor El Pais, nor Avui links to the story. Wonder how many subscriptions the Generalitat buys from them.

Meanwhile, Zap's goverment passed the Dependents Law last year as one of its major social programs: "severe dependents" (that is, retarded, disabled, senile, etc. people) are supposed to receive benefits, an average of €516 a month, each.

Great, I'm all for it. I believe it's part of the social contract that we help the weakest among us, and I think it's the government's job to make sure it happens. And for €516 a month, you can have a caregiver come in a couple of hours every day, or you can feed your grandma pork chops and fresh fish instead of weenies, or you can send your disabled kid to special physical therapy. As Rosa's primary caregiver during the last nine months of her life, I can tell you that such things make an enormous difference in the dependent's quality of life.

So 23,000 severe dependents in Catalonia, have not received their Dependents Law benefits yet, though the law has been in effect for a year now. That's more than a third of them. Carme Capdevila, of ERC, the Generalitat's counselor (=cabinet minister) for Social Action, admitted that there have been delays in implementing the program, because, you see, a year is just not enough time to put a law into practice.

Carme Capdevila, in case you don't remember, is one of the seven Generalitat counselors under investigation in the consultant report scandal. So she had time to make sure that her party's clients got the kickbacks they had coming, but not enough to make sure that all the severe dependents got their benefits before a year had passed.

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