Saturday, January 18, 2014

Government Reorganization: Massive Centralization Proposed

We're beginning to see the pieces of how Juan Orlando Hernández's transition team wants to re-organize the Honduran government.  We've accumulated our description through press reports (notably this, and this) and sources in Honduras with knowledge of the planning.

The names of proposed units vary, but the shape is clear: massive centralization and an emphasis on economic development, subordinating many of the functions of the executive branch to new structures of authority.

But there's a hitch: on Friday, the emerging plans got slapped down when Congress refused to authorize changes to the Ley de Administración Pública that would be necessary to implement what one Honduran source described to us as massive centralization.

Here's what the transition team proposed:

Eight super Ministries whose heads would form Hernandez's cabinet:
  • Strategic Planning (Conducción Estrategica)
  • Interior and Decentralization (Gobernabilidad y Descentralización)
  • Economic Development (Desarrollo Economico)
  • Social Development and Inclusion (Desarrollo e Inclusión Social)
  • Defense and Security (Defensa y Seguridad)
  • Productive Infrastructure (Infraestructura Productiva)
  • Foreign Relations and International Cooperation (Relaciones Exteriores y Cooperación Internacional)
  • Economic Planning and Regulation (Conducción y Regulación Economica)

The new structure demotes many of the existing Secretariats (such as Gobernacion, Justicia y Derechos Humanos, Agricultura y Ganaderia) to a director level below a super Minister.  It folds all the existing Secretariats into the eight super Ministries, if not at the director level, then as part of merged portfolios.
 Each of the eight cabinet ministers will have a series of direct reports, many of them running institutions that under Lobo Sosa were represented at the cabinet level.

Thus, Economic Planning and Regulation would include the Banco Central de Honduras (BCH), the Comision de Bancos y Seguros (CNBS), and the former cabinet-level Secretaria de Finanzas (SEFIN), among others.

Interior and Decentralization encompasses the former Interior Ministry, immigration services, and the National Registry of People (RNP)

Economic Development incorporates the Secretaria de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente (SERNA), and the Secretaria de Agricultura y Ganaderia, each previously cabinet level on its own.

Productive Infrastructure takes over the former Secretaria de Obras Publicas, Transporte, y Vivienda (SOPTRAVI).

Defense and Security essentially remains as it did under Arturo Corrales, folding together the former Secretaria de Defensa and the Secretaria de Seguridad, combining cabinet-level responsibility for the military and police.

Foreign Relations and International Cooperation replaces and continues the existing Ministry of Foreign Relations.


Power would be concentrated in a very few individuals. 

The proposed shape of the government shows the neoliberal economic agenda that is the focus of this government.  For example, the affairs of the former cabinet-level Ministry of Culture would be rolled into the new ministry of economic development.

The goal was allegedly to reduce the size of the Honduran government, and reduce its budget by some 700 million lempiras (about $35 million). But it's not clear where the savings would come from. Each super Ministry must do what all the previous Secretariats incorporated in it did.

This led Congress to reject the entire thing this Friday.

At the same time Congress was given the proposed structure, and changes to the Ley de Administración Pública to implement it, it was also given the Hernández budget for 2014 based on doing that reorganization. The rough outline of spending reportedly is:
Strategic Planning - 2000 million lempiras ($100 million)
Interior and Decentralization - 7000 million lempiras ($350 million)
Economic Development - 5000 million lempiras ($250 million)
Social Development and Inclusion - 70,000 million lempiras ($3.5 billion)
Defense and Security - 8000 million lempiras ($400 million)
Productive Infrastructure - 40,000 million lempiras ($2 billion)
Foreign Relations and International Cooperation - 855 million lempiras ($42.7 million)
Economic Planning and Regulation- 45,000 million lempiras ($2.25 billion)

Congress members said that the plan they received, along with the budget above, doesn't appear to eliminate any part of the existing government and just tacks a bureaucracy for a super Ministry on top of it, bloating the budget by 18 to 20 million per super Ministry. 

An unnamed Congressman is quoted as saying "they think they invented hot water....they sent us a bunch of foolishness and clumsy structures".

Now Congress, not Hernandez's transition team, will have the final say on if and how the government will be re-organized when they take the question up again in the next few days.

1 comment:

Diane Frishman said...

So what happened in the end?