«The Pass of the Year»: Mujica commissioned former Mevir general, who receives a salary of $304,000

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Journalist Patricia Madrid writes

In Mevir, an agency dedicated to implementing access to housing in rural areas, authorities who arrived with the new government have been holding their heads since the day they took over. As soon as they entered, they realized that the general manager, accountant Mario Piacenza, was no longer there, but they had to keep paying him the most important salary of the entire structure: $304,491 nominal per month, plus two extra games (7% of the monthly salary per presentism and $1,644 per food item).

And where was the general manager? In the office of Parliament of former President and Senator José Mujica, who asked him on a pass in committee on February 18, 2020, three days after taking over the bench. Mevir's former president Cecilia Bianco (excandidata by the FA to the Intendencia de Lavalleja) in just one week signed her pass and Piacenza ceased to serve in Mevir on 1 March.

Accountant Mario Piacenza, who does not integrate or militates in the People's Participation Movement (MPP), is one of three passes in commission that Mujica requested to work in his parliamentary office. As he said when he was consulted by Así Nos Va, his task with Senator Mujica consists of "advice": he has assisted him in the analysis of the Urgent Consideration Act and is now devoted to the analysis of the Budget Act.

Piacenza works for Mujica as a commission pass but the salary is paid by Mevir. And the agency had to double its most onerous salary because, in the absence of Piacenza, another general manager had to be hired: since April 1st, the architect Pablo Avelino, appointed on behalf of Cabildo Abierto by political quota, had to be hired.

That is, Mevir pays monthly two general manager's salaries, each for $417,983 (this includes salary, games and social charges) as confirmed to us by Mevir's President Juan Pablo Delgado. To this it should be added that both Piacenza and Avelino receive aguinaldo and holiday salary since Mevir is a non-State public person governed by private law.

FROM MANAGER TO ASSISTANT
Accountant Mario Piacenza became general manager of Mevir in early 2017 after failing an internal call that the agency had made to fill that position.

Piacenza had worked between 2007 and 2011 as Director of the International Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Livestock (from there his knowledge with José Mujica). Later, when Mujica assumed the Presidency of the Republic, Piacenza was appointed general manager of the National Development Corporation, and once the second government of Tabaré Vázquez began he returned to the International Affairs Unit of MGAP.

In early 2016, Mevir's coordinating table decided to make an internal call at the institution to fill the general manager's vacancy. The call established that the person winning the contest would remain in office for two years, with the maximum chance of a third year. That is, after the end of the period of government, the general manager contract also ended. With this "warning" mevir's president, Cecilia Bianco, transferred the invitation to the contest, via mail, to all Mevir officials. No one showed up, and Mevir's address declared the inner call deserted.

So it was that the agency's authorities decided to make an external call, to make a direct contract, and Piacenza was one of the applicants. After an analysis of his profile, the Mevir authorities resolved on December 22, 2016 that the first fortnight of January 2017 ended, the agency's new general manager would be the accountant. Unlike in the "internal call", which stipulated that the position would be held for a maximum period of three years, Piacenza's employment contract did not set any term of termination.

Having entered Mevir on January 17, 2017, Piacenza reached the three-year-old required by law to be "pass in commission" on 17 January 2020. Exactly a month later, Mujica applied for the pass.

MAKING UP THE SITUATION
Law 15.851 of the year 1985 authorizes the transfer of officials of state public bodies or legal persons under non-State public law who are more than three years old in the administration, to carry out in committee tasks of direct assistance to the President, Vice-President, Ministers, Undersecretaries, National Legislators, at their express request.

Piacenza's commission pass is within legal frameworks, but from the current government it is understood that, due to the lack of caution that was had in the past administration in contractual matters, it was possible for a manager to become an assistant in commission.

There were several consultations between Mevir's legal departments and the National Civil Service Office (ONSC) to see how to reverse this situation, but everything is in order. That is why the only way that was found was, under the Budget Law, to include an article to "fall" the Piacenza pass and also prevent situations of this kind from happening again.

Article 34 of the Budget Act, currently under study in the House of Representatives, provides that "passes in committees of officials of non-State public persons to the subparagraphs of the national budget, autonomous bodies, departmental governments and the legislative branch shall cease as of 1 January 2021 and should be immediately reintegrated to their office of origin". If this article is approved in both chambers, Piacenza must return to Mevir, and at that time the authorities can choose either way: keep him in office, or fire him.

What was already resolved by the Mevir authorities were two things: on the one hand, Piacenza was suspended from the monthly item for presentism, 7% of his salary. "This was a political decision I made because I understand that if it's in committee, it's not for copper," Mevir's president said when he was consulted by Así Nos Va.

On the other hand, Mevir decided that in the contract of the new general manager Pablo Avelino, it was fixed that his position is of "particular confidence" and that it will extend over time during the management period of the current administration.

When consulted by Así Nos Va, Piacenza said to keep in mind what is being promoted under the Budget Law, which would imply his return to Mevir. "I can't do anything, whatever the resolution, I'm in the middle. I'll abide by what's resolved," he said. According to calculations made from Mevir, Piacenza will cost the body in the environment of 5 million pesos.

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