MEXICO CITY – The Mexican government has increased the number of no-bid contracts awarded for public works projects in recent months, bypassing open and transparent bidding processes, the non-governmental organization Mexicans against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) said on Monday.
Some 77.4 percent of government contracts have been awarded without bidding, while only 15.9 percent of the calls for bids have been open, the NGO, which issued a report on the problem in March, said in a statement.
The remaining 6.7 percent of contracts were awarded under restricted calls for bids, MCCI said.
As a result, from March to June, the percentage of no-bid contracts awarded rose from 74 percent to 77.4 percent, the NGO said.
A total of 76,613 contracts were registered on the COMPRANET government procurement platform, MCCI said.
“When compared with other years, this means continuity with previous administrations,” MCCI said.
Between 2010 and 2018, on average, no-bid contracts were used for 72 percent of purchases, while the public bidding process was used in just 14.5 percent of the federal government’s procurement transactions.
This means that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration, like its predecessors, continues to hand out three of every four government contracts on a no-bid basis.
Lopez Obrador, who vowed during his campaign to crack down on corruption, was asked during his daily press conference on Monday about the no-bid contracts awarded to energy companies by state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
The president, the founder and leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), said the contract issue would be reviewed and a report released.
“We’re going to tell you, the director of Pemex is going to tell you everything about those contracts, how they were done, the transparency needed in terms of granting the contracts,” Lopez Obrador said.
MCCI noted that in his July 1 report on his accomplishments in office, Lopez Obrador did not discuss government contracts, while the National Development Plan includes “prohibiting the granting of no-bid contracts” as a measure for fighting corruption.
In its March report, the NGO cited the construction of the Tren Maya, a railway project in southeastern Mexico, as an example of no-bid contracting.
On March 19, three no-bid contracts totaling 90 million pesos ($4.7 million) were awarded covering studies, legal services and preparation of a master project plan, MCCI said.