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Peru: New Prime Minister Faces Skepticism

After the crisis in the Peruvian cabinet as a result of the scandal involving high-level governmental officials and links to alleged bribes involving oil contracts, President Alan García decided to name a new Prime Minister. The selected individual, Yehude Simon, does not belong to Garcia's APRA party [es], and he was received with some skepticism by some political sectors and by the population because of his alleged past linked to the terrorist movement MRTA. However, the skepticism towards Simon has to do with the failure of past government officials to make any progress against corruption and for the same language heard from other politicians in the past.

A few days ago and after a rough start due to the protests in various parts of the country, as the Weekly Summary from Perú Político [es] reported, Simon presented his action plan to the Congress. He also asked for a vote of confidence from the legislators. He did receive the vote, but there was also debate regarding what he should and should not do as Prime Minister.

Some bloggers have been providing their opinion on the matter and many are against Simon. José Gody of Desde El Tercer Piso [es] writes Hey, Yehude!

Una primera impresión es que Simon aún no se ubica en el rol del Presidente del Consejo de Ministro de un gobierno que se encuentra a la mitad de su periodo. Y es que, por momentos, el mensaje de ayer me sonó a agosto de 2006, cuando Jorge del Castillo exponía las grandes metas a cumplir por el gobierno, muchas de las cuales se han repetido en este mensaje. O al mensaje de un candidato presidencial que pretende hacer grandes cosas para convencernos de que votemos por él en el 2011.

Gran escepticismo produce, por ejemplo, el Plan Nacional contra la Corrupción. Mejor dicho, estoy escéptico con que se lleve a cabo. No porque a Simon le falte voluntad, sino porque, ya con la experiencia de lo que fue poner en el desvan a la Iniciativa Nacional Anticorrupción hecha durante el gobierno de Paniagua, esto de crear planes rimbombantes que no se cumplen por la poca voluntad de los Presidentes y de los funcionarios encargados de los controles. Ojo, si se cumple, en buena hora, será lo mejor para el país.

A first impression is that Simon still does not feel comfortable in his role as President of the Minister's Council in a government that is halfway through its term. And at times, yesterday's message sounded like August 2006, when Jorge del Castillo (the former President of the Minister's Council) presented great goals to be achieved by the government, many of which had been repeated in this message. Or in a message of a presidential candidate that wants to do great things to convince us to vote for him in 2011.

Grand skepticism produces, for example, the National Plan Against Corruption. Better said, I am skeptical that it will take place. Not because Simon lacks will, but because of the experience of watching them put the National Anti-Corruption Initiative created by the Paniagua government into the attic, and how they create grandiose plans that are not implemented because of the little will of the presidents and the officials in charge of the controls. Attention, if this is implemented, it would be the best for the country.

Guille of Pueblo Vruto [es] is sarcastic with the goals set by Simon and asks the following question in his post, “Can There Be So Much Beauty?

Desarrollo económico: La economía crecerá en 6.9 por ciento como mínimo en los próximos años. La economía crecerá cuatro veces más que la población, lo que permitirá que se concentren mayores recursos para reducir la pobreza. (…) Se reducirá la pobreza a un tercio de la población. Al final de este gobierno, el ingreso per cápita de los peruanos deberá ser el triple que hace una década.

Cada familia tendrá su vivienda de 2 pisos con jardín y cochera para dos 4X4. El BCR otorgará préstamos para países subdesarrollados como Estados Unidos o Chile, y el Perú se convertirá en potencia nuclear con derecho a veto en el Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas. Faltaba más!

Economic development: The economy will grow at least 6.9 percent in the next years. The economy will grow four times more than the population, which will allow more resources to be provided to reduce poverty (…) Poverty will be reduced for a third of the population. At the end of this government, the income per capita for Peruvians should be triple of what it was a decade ago.

Each family will have their two-story house with garden and garage for 2 4X4 cars. The BCR (Central Reserve Bank of Peru) will provide loans for underdeveloped countries like the United States or Chile, and Peru will become a nuclear power with veto power in the Security Council of the United Nations.

Finally, Francisco Canaza of Apuntes Peruanos [es] is also very lapidary in his opinions in the post Yehude Simon in Congress.

a pesar de haber sido designado en medio de una crisis de , Simon no estableció siquiera una base de trabajo, un marco de políticas para afrontar la . El mero acto de rechazar las prácticas de , el pasivo del gobierno del que ahora es parte, no significa establecer una política clara, para lo que no hace falta un nuevo Plan Anticorrupción sino un claro establecimiento de funciones y de responsabilidades

Tiene gracia, por ejemplo, que se hable de metas para la reducción de la pobreza pero no se diga siquiera cómo se va a focalizar los programas necesarios para tal fin. O que se plantee recién estudiar las matrices de función de diversos estamentos del a la par que se habla de recién crear un organismo de planificación. Peor aún: Que se hable de incrementar el gasto social, cuando el propio Banco Central de Reserva del Perú señala que el gasto público no debería exceder los propios límites del crecimiento estimado del país, cuyos estimados para el 2009 son menores a los obtenidos este año.

Even though he was named in the middle of a corruption crisis, Simon did not even establish a foundation for his work, a framework of policies to face the corruption. The mere act of rejecting corruption practices, the passive government of which Yehude Simon is now a part of, does not signify establishing clear policies, which a new Anti-Corruption Plan is not missing, but a clear establishment of functions and responsibilities.

It is funny, for example, that they are talking about goals to reduce poverty, but they do not say how they are going to focus on the necessary programs for that goal. Or that they propose studying the matrices of various stratum of the State, of which they are talking about creating an organization for planning. Even worse: They are talking about increasing social spending, when the very Central Reserve Bank of Peru states that public spending should not surpass the very limits of growth estimated for the country, which for 2009 is even less than the growth achieved this year.

The work of the Prime Minister has just started, and many are waiting to see of the criticisms are justified or not.

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