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Value of democracy? Priceless!

La Gringa has a great post detailing the results of a partial audit conducted by Honduran official Renán Sagastume, of ousted Honduran President Zelaya's irregular payments and personal expenses.  It puts a little perspective on the U.S. aid cuts.

During his administration, Zelaya had not allowed auditing of his expenses and often refused to even answer questions. These documents were turned over for audit by the current Presidential Minister.

The largest among those payments was L. 77,945,478 to consultant Robert Meyering. He was hired by Zelaya without a public bid as is required by the constitution (article 360). In order to accomplish this, Zelaya declared "a national emergency" when there was none in his first attempt to circumvent the laws of the country shortly after he took office.

Originally, the public was assured that the project would save the country US $46 million and that if didn't save at least US $20 million, the consultant would not have to be paid. The project Mr. Meyering worked on was the first of Zelaya's failed, expensive, poorly thought-out ideas. The L. 77 million produced nothing for Honduras and the project was abandoned.

Among the list of personal and irregular expenses of ex-President Zelaya paid with public funds are:

L. 4,411,500 Publicity without bidding
L. 4,915,617 Helicopter rental
L. 4,172,385 Airplane rental
L. 1,565,436 Jewelry
L. 780,000 Caretaker for Cafe, his horse
L. 400,000 Fuel for helicopter rental
L. 280,000 Stereo for his personal vehicle
L. 228,330 Oil paintings
L. 102,204 Supplies, etc., for Cafe, his horse
L. 97,974 Wine
L. 50,255 Cigars
L. 40,000 Sculptures
L. 20,515 Motorcycle repairs

According to the audit results, the millions in personal expenses are irregular, including an even L.1,000,000 which was designated as food baskets, but included no supporting documentation.

Sr. Sagastume confirmed that these personal expenses have nothing to do with the ongoing investigations of the irregular use of public funds for the cuarta urna project, currently estimated at some L. 600 million.

Zelaya's administration was criticized constantly for the waste of public funds in spite of preaching austerity which he never personally practiced. The Casa Presidencial budget was increased from L. 4.5 million in 2007, to L. 7.2 million in 2008. Despite his claims that no public official would earn more than L.60,000 per month, Zelaya's own salary was L. 97,500. Additionally, his wife Xiomara Castro was paid a salary of L. 80,000.

L. 123 million converts to approximately US $6.5 million
L. 600 million converts to approximately US $31.7 million

Read the whole thing here.

H/T:  Carlos

1 comment to Value of democracy? Priceless!