Access to public information, protection of personal data, and accountability are obligations that should be understood as a duty and not as an act of benevolence, goodwill or just to comply with the law, said the director of the Faculty of Law (FD) of the UNAM, Raul Contreras Bustamante.

Accompanied by Blanca Lilia Ibarra Cadena, president commissioner of the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), and Julio César Bonilla Gutiérrez, president commissioner of INFO CDMX, he explained that corruption is one of the main evils that afflict modern democracies, and whose effects have an important impact on the proper exercise of people's rights.

At the opening of the forum "University Dialogues for Transparency, developed in a hybrid way", he stressed that society must understand and demand that public servants comply with transparency, accountability, and respect for personal data, to the extent that these tasks will be fulfilled in a better way. In the Ius Semper Loquitur auditorium of the university, he emphasized that it is their obligation to those who trusted them and entrusted them with responsibility.

In the meeting organized jointly by the FD and the INFO CDMX, Contreras Bustamante recalled that in 2002 Mexico had the first Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Public Governmental Information, and since then society has made progress in this matter. According to the Corruption Perception Index 2020 survey of the Transparency International Organization, Mexico was ranked 124th out of 180 countries. This must be fought and overcome. Access to information and accountability must be the rams that contribute to generating a true and effective fight against corruption, she said.

In turn, Blanca Lilia Ibarra Cadena stated that since its foundation in 1910 until today, the National University is the space par excellence for a plural and sharp, but tolerant, dialogue on the events and challenges in our country. "I am pleased that today we can meet to carry out these University Dialogues for Transparency, a pertinent proposal, for two great reasons: because it was precisely the academic sector that was one of the greatest promoters of transparency and the right of access to information in the country."

A second reason has to do with transparency, an issue that is still under construction both in a conceptual theoretical way, as well as in terms of citizen positioning. "This is fundamental because, as Rector Enrique Graue has rightly pointed out, a well-informed citizenry about the origin and destination of various public matters and the resources provided for them, can be more and better committed to the political and social development of our nation".

Julio César Bonilla Gutiérrez explained that transparency and accountability are democratic triumphs, without which modern and constitutional states cannot be understood. The function of constitutionally autonomous bodies is relevant for the Mexican State as for any democratic society, "that is why we always find in the arms of the National University that encouragement and capacity to welcome and reinvent ourselves".

Today we are at a time when the National Transparency System is stronger than ever and has demonstrated the Federation's capacity to transform and reinvent its realities, environments, and capabilities, which is largely due to the leadership of those who make up the INAI, acknowledged the also academic of the FD.

CEESP launches alert on corruption in Mexico

Corruption affects three out of every four companies in Mexico, which has become a matter of concern, said the Center for Economic Studies of the Private Sector (CEESP). In its weekly analysis, the organization considered that this problem has to do with poor regulation or excessive paperwork because they are associated with inefficiencies in public institutions and cause delays in the attention of businesses and encourage corruption.

The main manifestations of this phenomenon are reflected in payments to speed up procedures and avoid fines or closure of establishments. Delays in service or excessive regulation encourage irregular payments or influence peddling to expedite procedures or formalities, which generates unnecessary costs and causes interest groups to appropriate activities that correspond to the State.

The CEESP considered it worrying that the perception of more corruption is registered in cities with strong economic activity, such as Mexico City, Mexicali, Juarez, Chihuahua, Torreon, Saltillo, and San Luis Potosi. The National Survey of Regulatory Quality and Governmental Impact on Companies, released last week by INEGI, showed a drop in the perception of acts of corruption among public servants, decreasing from 82.2% in 2016 to 71.5% in 2020.

Corruption, a crime that depends on institutions and laws

Corruption is a crime of opportunity and calculation. Its incidence may be influenced by culture, but fundamentally it depends on the institutions and laws under which public officials, businesses, and citizens operate. Corruption can occur between private, procuring agents who accept payments, but its most damaging effects are on the functioning of government and public confidence in the state.

Corruption is a systemic problem and the Civil Service still has a lot of work to do, despite the progress made. Mexico is at an encouraging point, with a significant improvement in the public's perception of the measures that the Government is applying against this scourge. This improvement is an encouraging sign because it means that the country is moving from a vicious circle to a virtuous one, where there are very important changes in attitude. However, there is a need for measures to dissuade corruption, institutional reforms to inhibit its practice, that is, to eliminate corrupt incentives.

This means eliminating corrupt incentives. In other words, we need to see what companies gain, where the spaces for bribery or kickbacks are generated.

One of the actions recommended is to improve the structure of social programs, redesigning them to reduce the discretionary power of public servants in their management, which could be through the direct delivery of benefits, which is already being done by the Mexican Government. Likewise, to simplify procedures in the governmental fields most vulnerable to corruption, such as procurement and public works, where costs increase by up to 50% for both the government and society.

In recent years, the intolerance of citizens towards corruption has increased, and this is expressed in different ways, but especially through the vote. An example of this was the citizenry's support for the measures adopted by the Mexican government to combat fuel theft, despite the immediate effects of temporary shortages.

The fight against corruption always raises reactions. Today, the fight against corruption unites all Mexicans and many foreign interests who work together for a more just world.

Companies perceive a drop in acts of corruption

Businesses' perception of acts of corruption by public officials in Mexico has decreased in recent years, while trust in government and public institutions has improved. According to INEGI's National Survey of Regulatory Quality and Governmental Impact on Companies (ENCRIGE), in 2020 71.5 percent of economic units in the country considered that acts of corruption were frequent, down from 82.2 percent in 2016.

The data indicate that the number of firms that perceived very frequent and frequent acts of corruption was 2.9 million in 2020, down from 3.7 million in 2016. Overall, the cost of these acts of corruption accounted for a total of 887.2 million pesos during the past year. In other words, per economic unit, the average cost per act of corruption was 7,419 pesos.

This reduction in corruption has to do, on the one hand, with the increase in trust between companies and the different types of federal, state, and municipal governments; and this was reflected in the frequency of acts of corruption. Other factors may have influenced the reduction of corruption such as the pandemic and technological progress, the procedures that companies did through the Internet increased, decreasing the possibility of corrupting any procedure since a public official may have committed a corrupt action was not involved.

There is a decrease in the perception of corruption, but the data is still very high. The biggest problem is the paperwork, which is perceived as an obstacle for companies, and many times they have to resort to participating in these corruption systems to speed up the paperwork. Regarding the level of trust of companies in different institutions, the worst perception was towards the police, where 65.3 percent perceived some or a lot of distrust; this was followed by political parties, with 60.8 percent, and the Public Ministry, with 47.7 percent.

However, trust increased in general, in all institutions: in the police, it increased from 32.1 to 34.2 percent, between 2016 and 2020; in political parties, it rose from 19.5 to 34 percent, and in the Chamber of Deputies it rose from 20.4 to 46.3. In the federal government, the increase was from 26.4 to 62.3 percent, and in the electoral institutes the figure rose from 41.2 to 64.5; I also highlight the rise in municipal governments, from 41.0 to 61.1 percent.

Regulatory costs increase

According to ENCRIGE, the average expenditure of economic units for administrative burdens increased between 2016 and 2020 by going from 58 thousand 19 to 95 thousand 760 pesos. At the national level, the cost of compliance with regulations totaled 238.9 billion pesos, equivalent to 1 percent of GDP.

In the case of micro-enterprises, the cost was 33,956 pesos on average, a figure that rose to 287,000 pesos for small companies, 1.33 million for medium-sized companies, and 2.3 million for large companies. A total of 28.2 percent of the companies indicated that the regulatory framework represented an obstacle to achieving their business objectives.

However, according to the survey results, the percentage of economic units with an unfavorable opinion on the evolution of administrative burdens decreased, going from 50.9 percent in 2016 to 45.7 in 2020. The good news from this survey is that indeed the perception of businesses improved in terms of an opinion. But unfortunately, they have become more expensive administrative burdens.

In this sense, if these formalities are not carried out, it becomes a burden in terms of competitiveness and economic matters, that is, it generates informality, risks of corruption, and negative externalities. According to the INEGI survey, the biggest problem for the operation of companies is insecurity, with 58.1 percent of responses. It is followed by the lack of government support (37.1); the increase in input prices (32.9), the economy of the entity (32.5), and access to financing (15.5).