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2009-04-10

Guatemala sets up US$12 million social welfare programme

Helena Martell

The Guatemalan government has announced the formation of “Mi Familia Progresa”, a social welfare programme, and a 100-million quetzal (US$12.3 million) trust fund to finance it. The new programme’s remit will be to improve the health and diet of Gua

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Mi Familia Progresa is a social welfare programme intended to safeguard the health, education, and all-round development of Guatemala’s children and young people.

Mi Familia Progresa is a social welfare programme intended to safeguard the health, education, and all-round development of Guatemala’s children and young people.

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – The Guatemalan government has set up Mi Familia Progresa (My Family Progresses), a social welfare programme financed through a 100 million quetzal (US$12.3 million) trust fund. It will be aimed at improving the education, health, and all-round development of Guatemala’s children and young people.

According to the executive order published in Guatemala’s official gazette, the new programme is intended to safeguard the health and diet of families with children aged six and under, raise the school attendance levels of children aged between six and 15, and monitor the health and diet of pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Siglo XXI reported that the trust fund will be managed by a board of directors consisting of the ministers of education, public health and social welfare, and public finances.

Edgar Rosales, a spokesman for the Council for Social Cohesion, which will manage the programme, told El Periódico that the amount in the trust fund can be increased as necessary to meet the programme’s needs.

The executive order overturns an earlier one made only last month, which put the Ministry of Education in charge of running the programme. According to Rosales, the new arrangement will guarantee the transparency of the programme, whose accounts and operations will be audited by the Comptroller General’s Office (CGC).

Jairo Flores, the head of the Presidential Executive Coordination Secretariat (SCEP), told Siglo XXI that the trust fund – or Social Solidarity Fund, as it will be known – will embrace other development programmes, including rural road building, educational infrastructure, and repairing the damage left by Hurricane Stan.

SCEP has also made the new fund responsible for completing programmes, projects, and public works that are either unfinished or planned but not yet paid for.

The new arrangement, however, has not convinced the Centre for the Defence of the Constitution, a private organisation which has accused the government of acting unconstitutionally by setting up a social fund that will be managed through a trust, thus sidestepping the CGC’s auditing rules.

The centre argued that, under the constitution, the government’s programmes are supposed to be carried out by ministries and that the programme would lack transparency.

Rejecting the accusation, Edgar Rosales told Prensa Libre that the Constitutional Court was the only body with the power to determine whether the constitution had been violated and that the project would go ahead as planned.

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