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Mexico Tackles Government Corruption with Technology - 2001-12-06

Mexico's Comptroller General (Contraloria General) Francisco Barrio says better laws and more use of high technology can help reduce corruption in his country.

This week, Mexican President Vicente Fox sent to Congress proposals for changes in the law to allow more transparency in government and greater access to official information by citizens. His Comptroller General, Francisco Barrio, says these measures will help reduce the corruption that debilitates the bureaucracy and causes citizens to view their government with cynicism and contempt. He says Mexico must become more effective in preventing corruption and not just focus on programs designed to punish those who are found to be corrupt.

Mr. Barrio says better pay and training for bureaucrats would help, but he also favors taking many petty procedures out of their hands. Currently, Mexicans must stand in long lines at government offices and fill out papers at bureaucratic counters in order to obtain permits, register legal changes and perform other procedures. Mr. Barrio says a new government program using computers and internet links will allow citizens to bypass the bureaucrats and the long lines. He says the goal over the next 24 months is to eliminate 500 million procedures in government offices.

Among the other proposals for fighting corruption in Mexico are proposed laws to reform the administrative and public service sectors and a law that would allow ordinary citizens more access to official documents. Many laws, regulations and government procedural information would be made available on the internet at each federal agency's web site.

The Fox administration is also seeking a change in law to provide incentives, including cash payments, to government workers who provide information about corrupt practices and a witness protection program for people whose testimony might put them in danger.