Just Decision, Complex Execution / Fernando Damaso
Fernando Damaso, Translator: Unstated
An article about so-called "subsidies"—recently approved to help
families who have housing problems, lack financial resources and are
willing to rebuild or make repairs themselves —raises some questions.
The article deals only with Pinar del Río, one of the provinces most
affected in recent years by hurricanes that have passed through the
It is reported that 12 million pesos have been budgeted, from which 357
families have benefitted so far, 133 repair or constructions projects
have begun, and 231 people have acquired building materials at the point
of sale. Of 952 subsidy applications, 357 have been approved (as
previously mentioned) and 328 are being processed. This suggests that
the remaining 252 have been denied, or are not being processed. So far,
everything seems clear.
The first question arises over the report that more than 22,000 homes
have been affected by hurricanes over the last decade. Assuming that 952
applications are approved (something very difficult to accomplish), that
would leave 21,048 affected homes without coverage. In black and white
terms this would mean that, if 952 cases were resolved this year, it
would take an additional 21 years to resolve the rest. This assumes that
there is no additional damage from future hurricanes.
Since this is an "orderly process" (which to me means lengthy and slow)
and there is "rigorous control from the point of sale to completion,"
according to the official interviewed, this suggests that the subsidy
recipient must not only do the actual work, he must also accept the fact
that bureaucrats from the various organizations involved in the process
will control his every move. As if this were not enough, it is reported
that "money from the subsidy may not be used to cover the costs of
transporting building materials." This raises another question. Is he
supposed to carry the cement, concrete, iron rebar, etc. on his back and
those of his friends and family?
When those who draft regulations know absolutely nothing about what they
are regulating, these sorts of inconsistencies occur. Wouldn't it be
easier, after analyzing and approving each application, to hand the
subsidy over to the beneficiary and let him—the person most concerned
with solving his housing problem—use it as he sees fit without pointless
interference? Would it cost so much to stop wanting to control everything?
Someone might point out that this is not the only way to solve the
housing problem, that there are also bank loans. That is true, but just
try to apply for one and you will see the vía crucis that awaits you,
assuming you can even get it. I think the decision to grant subsidies is
a just one, but if the bureaucratic impediments that currently accompany
them are not removed, it is a program that will fail without
accomplishing its objectives.
August 27 2012