12 August 2010

And the winner of the Maraca project is...

The biggest civil engineering firms in Brazil!

The Rio State Government awarded the Maracanã construction contract to Consórico Brasil 2014, a consortium composed of the massive civil construction firms Andrade Gutierrez, Delta and Odebrecht. The stated reason for the victory - they came in with the lowest bid, R$712,000,000 a whopping 2.4% below the allocated budget.

This rationale for selecting a construction company is nullified by a tidy exception in the law when dealing with architectural reform projects. Because the Maracanã is undergoing “renovation” the law permits contractual readjustments up to 50% of the contracted value. Therefore, the legal limit for the Novo Maracanã project will be R$1,068,000,000 (R$1.068 billion). Why not spend it? When added to the R$ 430 million spent between 2005-2007 on reforms for the Pan American Games…R$ 1,498,000,000. This number reflects the best case scenario. 

To reiterate: the federal and state governments are spending at least one point five billion Reales (US$ 881 million) on a stadium in a city where less than 20% of public schools have recreational areas for students. This is yet another example of the prioritization of contracts with international sporting agencies taking precedence over the social contract of a democracy.

There is a meeting being held today between the State Secretary of Sport and Leisure, the Company for Public Works (EMOP) and a representative of Consórico Brasil 2014 to determine when the project will actually begin. The longer they wait, the more money there is to be sucked out of the public coffers.

Does anyone remember, way back when Brazil was first going about organizing the World Cup, that the Minister of Sport said, “The government is not planning to use public money for the construction or remodeling of stadiums.”  (Folha do SP 31.11.07). The private sectors is not jumping in BECAUSE IT IS A BAD INVESTMENT.

FIFA’s deadline of December 31, 2012 is driving the entire process. FIFA’s absurd demands informed the architectural project, the cost, the way that urban space around the stadium will reshaped and exploited for private profit. The public interest is the last item on the agenda. All that matters now is that the state and federal governments get the check book ready so the city, state and federal governments can pay Brazil 2014 to deliver on a promise made to organized criminals.

But don't despair, Brazilian taxpayers, there is still hope that the process can be delayed even further because the losing bidders have the chance to suspend the contract process through legal means. The underhanded dealings of the licitação are reflective of the total lack of transparency in general. All of the candidates were informed (via fax) after business hours on Monday night that the winning bid would be announced on Tuesday morning. In reading between the lines of OGlobo’s characteristically Prozac-influenced reporting, the faxed messages included information telling companies that they were disqualified because their bids were outside of the required parameters. The eleventh-hour notification was not accidental. This is a game played with marked cards. 

I will get used to this opacity, eventually, but it really does seem to be much more work to hide everything than to negotiate in the light of day. One of the terrible beauties of Brazilian bureaucracy is that there are so many forms and agencies and permissions and confusions, that there is inevitably something wrong with everything, which always provides an excuse to eliminate a company from the competition. Will there be collusion between Brasil 2014 and the losing bids in order to delay the process for another six months so that the budget for the project will increase as FIFA’s version of the Mayan Calendar comes to a close? 

The news from Manaus is no better. The Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU, the federal auditor) and the Ministério Público Federal (MPF, the federal judiciary) are investigating a supposed budgetary overrun of R$749 million. This money is related to the construction of the Arena Manaus and a monorail, two things that Manaus could desperately live without. Of the R$1.3 billion destined for the monorail, R$686 million are in question. Brincadeira. Of the R$ 591 million intended for the stadium (in a city that does not have a team in any of the top three Brazilian divisions), R$63 million are in question.  Various federal investigative agencies are wading through the mess, which so far only involves the contracting stage. Imagine once the project actually gets moving! Multiple the situation in Manaus x 12 and you get the general picture for the 2014 World Cup. 

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