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Siemens in São Paulo | CPIs and a Blue Ribbon Commission

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Source: Jornal do Brasil

The Workers Party (PT) benches in the state legislature and the lower house of the federal contress are collecting signatures needed to install a parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) on the Siemens case and to launch it sometime this year.

In this fashion,  the story would generate a lot of buzz during an election year.  Otherwise, the topic fades from public consciousness and ends up as a prosecution that waits in line for years to be tried.

In Congress, half of the necessary signatures were obtained on a single day. In the state assembly  (Alesp), the PT has obtained 26 signatures in August and are engaged in dialogue with allied parties to balance out the pressure applied by the state government.

The  PT wants to look into contracts entered into by the state government with companies like Siemens since 2008. It is only now, however, … that it sees the opportunity to obtain the support of colleagues in investigating the charges and apply such penalties as suspension of the contracting rights of corporations and the firing of public servants.

On August 22 alone, 90 of the 171 signatures needed to constitute the CPI were obtained, according to Paulo Teixeira (PT-SP), secretary-general of the party. Teixeira believes there is solid support for the CPI, so that the collection of signatures may come as early as this week.

At the outstart, the CPI would investigate cartel formation, calculate how much public money was diverted, and analyze  the involvement of public officials, tax evasion, money laundering and bribery “Our objectivo is to estimate how much was diverted from the public coffers of São Paulo and to recover these sum for the state,” he says.

In the state legislature, the opening of a CPI appears less attractive to the state  deputies.  At the moment, 26 of the 48 signatures needed to establish a CPI in 2013 have been collected. For the CPI to be instituted, only 32 signatures are needed, but this number, the CPI would be placed on a waiting list and could not start work until 2014. According to Luiz Claudio Marcolino, leader of the PT in ALESP, the opposition base proposes amending an internal  parliamentary rule so that six CPIs can operate at the same time — a situation that occurred in the case of the CPI of Slave Labor. This exception to the rule requires 48 signatures.

Marcolino says that the PT benches are conversing with parties that have yet to adhere to the proposal, and believes the 48 signatures needed can be obtained in the coming weeks, especially given popular support for the CPI. All the signatures received so far have come from the opposition to the state government. Marcolino says that of the 26 assinaturas, 22 are PT, members, two represent the PCdoB , one is from PDT and another is PSOL.

The PT members are working to gain the support of parties such as the Greens, the PMDB and the PPS.

“We are in talks with other deputies. They are interesting in signing, but say their parties have not yet taken a position.

“The state government created a subterfuge  when it established a — blue ribbon commission —  (the TranSParência Movement) to study the contracts. Reading the newspapers, however, it is obvious that an avalanche of incorrect information has been released to ensure that the allied base does not sign.

Blue-ribbon commission is a bit of an extrapolation, but it makes sense given the independent inquiry of prominent citizens this TranSParência Movement is supposed to be. Members should be

 of outstanding quality; especially : consisting of individuals selected for quality, reputation, or authority <a blue–ribbon panel>

Source: Merriam-Webster. Think of the 9-11 Commission, or the Iraq Intelligence Commission, the latter the product of an executive order by Bush Junior.

Civil society is to represented by the Ethos Institute — which quite properly discloses its substantial partnership with Siemens.

Other than that, no visible progress toward actually establishing a public presence — something you can do on Blogger and Twitter in a handful of minutes.

Still, despite the quality of information reported by the news organizations, and with Siemens itself going public to comment on the case, it will be very hard for a legislator not to sign the document.

We (the PT) had already made these accusations (between 2008 and 2011), but now we have the facts of a case with repercussions in various regions of Brasil. Deputies faced with the problem of  how to decide face a choice between bowing to popular pressure or bowing to pressure from the Governor,” Marcolino stated.

When Alesp organizes its own CPI, the inquiry will focus on the judgment of companies and public servants, based on the significant amount of information turned up by the PT members since 2008.

“If deputies or senators are involved, they should be removed from office. The contracts of the companies involved should be suspended and reevaluated, and the public coffers should be made whole.

“The companies involved will not be able to compete for public contracts in the state of S. Paulo. We were the ones that made some of the accusations. Many contracts have been signed since the period in question, and continue in force. There should have been a reevaluation of these contracts in the intervening period (2008-2012 –ed.),” said Marcolino.

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