The Ministry of Finance filed on today’s morning a series of notices with the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) related to the misappropriation of funds designated for emergency care due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 66 municipalities in El Salvador.
Minister Alejandro Zelaya explained that the audit process of the more than $190 million that the previous Legislative Assembly awarded to mayors throughout the country to address the emergency caused by the health crisis as a result of the pandemic is still continuing.
So far, there are 66 municipal administrations in which irregularities have been found, mainly the use of these funds for other purposes and expenses that have not been reported or that have not been duly justified.
Zelaya explained that, in many cases, the funds designated for emergency care due to the pandemic were transferred to the common account of the municipalities and used for payroll payments, payments to suppliers, financing of festivities or even campaign expenses for the last legislative elections of 2021.
The official pointed out that, after the presentation of these notices, the actions to be taken in the case of the irregularities found are left in the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office and emphasized that they expect to present notices from other municipalities in the coming days, as the audit progresses in the municipal administrations that are still missing.
In 2020, the Legislative Assembly approved Decree 608, which authorized the mayors to use 30% of the total amount that was managed to remedy the care of emergencies caused by COVID-19. In total, there was $191.7 million awarded to the mayors, of which, so far, the Treasury has found embezzlement of funds of more than $27 million.
Yesterday, Minister Zelaya explained that the irregularities found so far amount to $ 24,926,000 in expenses that do not apply to destinations and another $ 2,741,000 that have not been properly documented.
Among the municipalities that have presented irregularities in the management of these funds for emergencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the mayor’s office of Santa Tecla, which presents anomalies of more than $ 900,000. There is also that of San Salvador, with $1,235,000 used in an irregular way, that of Santa Ana where irregularities were detected for $900,000, as well as those of Coatepeque, with more than $ 1 million used inappropriately, and that of Acajutla, where they have been found. Up to $900,000 spent without any documentation.