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São Paulo | New Songs About Buildings and Food


Source: Artur Rodrigues | O Estado de S.Paulo

To expedite procedures and reduce corruption, Haddad disbands Aprov

Change. The agency, which became known for the scandal involving its former manager, Hussain Aref Saab, was retired yesterday, together with Contru, by the new city Secretary of Licenses, which faces the task of catching up on 25,000 applications.

Whatever happened to Hussain Aref Saab? I thought it was remarkable how little coverage was devoted to his ties with Mayor Kassab and his party.  Then I thought again.

Six months into his mandate, Fernando Haddad (PT) has instituted the Municipal Secretary of Licenses and given it the mission of acting on a backlog of at least 25,000 applications. The first official act of the new agency, headed by architect Paula Maria Motta Lara, is to put an end to Aprov, the Building Approvals office, and Contru, a zoning authority, both of which have suffered  accusations of corruption over the  years.

The closing of these offices comes as part of a restructuring program that plans to staff up with civil servants from two underused city departments, Parsolo (…) and Cadastro Setorial (…), which are also being dismantled.

The objective is to divide these human resources among specialized coordinating agencies: Residential Use (Resid), Institutional Services and Uses (Servin), Industrial and Commercial Usage (Comin), Public Housing (Parhis) and Special Activities and Security of Usage.

Although she explains the changes in terms of operational considerations, the incoming secretary says she is happy to do away with Aprov, which gained fame from the scandal involving its former chief, Hussain Aref Saab, who accumulated a fortune of 125 real properties during his tenure.

“With everything that happened, Aprov became synonymous with the worst possible scenario. Our decision was to say, “There will no more Aprov, forget that story because now there is a new municipal secretary.”

As a weapon against corruption, Paula will rely on reducing procedural delays, and said she had found cases lying around unattended since 2002. “What you saw in the cases (of corruption) we discovered were promises to expedite paperwork. “At present, it is normal to see cases that have waited five years or more. There is a mountain of paperwork. The atmosphere lacks the urgency of an office with people waiting,” she adds. Her goal is to comply with the Código de Obras — The Building Code — which provides for finalization of applications within 90 days.

Regarding the six month delay in establishing the new structure, Paula blamed bureaucratic issues: It was necessary to approve the enabling legislation for the creation of the new office, which was part of a legislative package with 11 other topics. In the meantime, Paula worked out of the office of the housing secretary, with no support except for a driver, and says the number of procedures stuck in the system at Aprov decreated  from 7,500 to 4,600,

With the new coordinators, Paula knows that the mayor will be keeping a sharp eye on the approval of «social interest housing» — the mayor has promised to build 20,000 units. Another bottleneck is the lack of a licensing program for night clubs. On Sunday, the Estado reported that, of 58 party spots  it monitored, 30 were operating without a license.


Electronic processing. Another mission to accomplish by year’s end is to reactive the electronic system adopted by ex-Mayor Gilberto Kassab, which had many problems and was suspended. For the time being, the process remains a pen and paper affair. The incoming secretary says she is also organizing amendments to the 1992 Building Code. The idea is to assign more responsibility — and punishment — to those responsible for construction projects …

It will be nice it if works out. Earlier administrations, now in the opposition, provided significant bureaucratic relief in some areas with the Poupatempo program. Haddad is an ambitious technocrat with a briefcase full of master plans. We shall see how well he can cope with the fractious municipal assembly and the state, the latter of which belongs to the national opposition.