Urban planning experts hail Haddad for anticorruption effort
The city government of São Paulo, together with the state Public Ministry [prosecutor], has taken a rigorous approach to the investigation of a corruption scheme that has ruled the approval process for building projects in the city in the last eight years.
Petty and traditional corruption, which has always accompanied the obtaining of official permits for the use and occupation of urban land is something with which we are all familiar.
Many citizens complain, and with good reason, of the bureaucracy involved in obtaining approval and issuing the proper permit.
For the past eight years, however, bribery was installed in a systematic way among midlevel civil servants.
This practice affects building projects from start to finish: from the approval of the plan – which is negotiated directly with the Secretary of Housing – to the issuing of the permit to occupy the space, after paying a bribe to someone in the Secretary of Finance. And now we find out that bribes were demanded in order to certify payment of IPTU and ISS, the real estate tax and the tax on services.
The São Paulo city government is confronting this problem as never before: it altered the approval processes, centralizing them in a newly created secretariate, the Secretary of Urban Licensing, under the command of a respected professional; it created the municipal Comptroller-General; and it launched a thoroughgoing investigation.
As incredible as it seems, some among the mainstream press are trying to impute to the current administration the failings of the previous administration, which held office during the entire eight years.
For what reason?
It is up to social, professional and business representatives to explain the situation lest we lose a historic opportunity to change this unacceptable but deeply rooted standard of corrupt conduct.
The city comptroller, Mario Vinicius Spinelli, points in a recent, courageous article an essential aspect: “There is no corruption without corrupters.” He proclaimed his amazement at the silence and refusal to cooperate in the investigation bypart of the real estate sector.
We urban planners, professionals and professors, wish to declare our support for the efforts of the current city administration, and ask the following of the city and state executives and legislatures, the public prosecutor and magistrates:
That every building project certified as complete in exchange for a bribe have its license audited, and, if irregularities are found in the construction or safety and security of the construction, such as its fire prevention systems, these should be subjected to an adjustment of conduct proceeding so that the citizen can be repaid, not only for the ISS that was diverted, but also the risks of badly constructed buildings that put their safety in jeopardy. First of all, we should prioritize building projects that generate a high volume of traffice or are the subject of an impact study;
The state prosecutor should summon the companies in charge of these public works for interviews, in the event they do not come forward willingly;
The Projects and Public Works Code should be reviewed in order to restrict its scope to fundamental social, environmental and public safety questions.
The processes involved in approving plans, oversight, and obtaining licenses should be reviewed in order to produce a new, more transparent routine.
The state and city government and public concessionaires should work together to simplify the process of obtaining approvals and licenses.
Integrated oversight of the Swampland Protection Area.
For all that we love it, our home would probably not pass muster if inspected closely. We assume we have paid no bribes because of the visible humility of our lifestyle … Auto insurance is another story …