Transparency: my aim in politics
On 16 August Hipólito Mejía, of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, an SI member party, started a four-year term as president of the Dominican Republic. Here he talks of his plans for the future of his country
Socialist Affairs, Issue 1 / Volume 49, 2000
I have decided to put an end to the era of broken promises and of hopes turned into bitter frustration. I am going to rule the country in a house of glass so that citizens can themselves observe the action of all the civil servants. And you can be sure that if in these four years acts of corruption take place it will be I who will be the one to start legal proceedings so that wrongdoers are punished. In order to do this I will set up the office of a Public Prosecutor with nationwide jurisdiction who will warn of corruption and punish it.
I have said it time and again, officials in my government must come to public office in order to give of themselves and not to help themselves. My wish is to impose a real moral sense on public administration so that lies, double dealing, fraud and trickery disappear. If in the past irregular actions have taken place and corruption has been demonstrable the judges will have the task of investigating and taking action according to the law. Neither my government nor I will try to influence judges, nor will we intervene in the sphere of competence of the judicial power whose independence we honour.
My political platform has been full of concrete objectives. One of the foremost of these is the fight against the poverty into which an enormous percentage of the population are sunk. We will keep an macro-economic balance but it will be an economic balance with a human face which will seek to satisfy the Dominican people’s enormous need for social justice. Economic growth is a joke when it is not translated into an improvement in the standard of living of the poorest. As a study carried out by the Inter-American Development Bank has recently shown, the principal Dominican development indices are below the Latin American average.
This fact imposes on us the obligation in government to make investment in people our priority, the development of the human being as an indispensable factor for just and fair development.
For this to be done we will need to reactivate the economy, create jobs for young people and women, offer health care and social security, make education deeper and broader, boost cattle raising, make tourism and the duty-free zones grow, assure food supplies, stimulate exports and foreign investment, promote culture, promote the modernisation of all the powers of state, heal our environment and protect our natural resources.
I will make every effort needed to ensure people have enough to eat and in this context we will modernise the economic structure of the country, we will transform our productive potential with infrastructure works to allow us to grow more crops. We will reorganise our research system and we will boost the offers of financial credit. We will create an export culture which will, by the time I step down at the end of my term, turn our nation into the biggest food producer in the Caribbean and establish a defined presence in the demanding US market. The push toward the development of farm production will go hand in hand with the indispensable aim whose consequences we assume - the profitability of the noble task of producing food. The time of importing unnecessary goods is over. If in the elections of 16 May people voted to respect the Dominican producer I am ready to take up that challenge.
I will promote the rehabilitation and building of cheap housing, I will improve the production of the Dominican industrial and farm sector, I will confront the grave problems with electric power and I will pay particular attention to the reordering of our armed forces and police who are the guarantors of our sovereignty, public order and individual security.
So that public servants realise they are servants of the people and administrators of their institutions, I will turn round the management systems of public administration and to this end the government will adopt a code of conduct which all will see is adhered to. It will be based on honesty, equity and respect for human rights, social solidarity and its highest values, that of respect for life and human integrity, rejecting torture and cruel and degrading treatment of people by those in charge of public safety.
I will work as a real manager to rehabilitate the country, rebuilding its abandoned country roads, its worn-out highways, its potholed roads and its neglected irrigation systems. The country will have new schools, hospitals, polytechnics and dams. Our river basins will be reforested so as to save the water which relieves our people’s thirst and sustains our agriculture. The secretary of state for education will raise the cultural and educational level of our people and augment the spiritual riches of the nation.
Those activities which damage the physical and moral health of Dominicans will be attacked mercilessly in an offensive against local and foreign criminals, the traffic in drugs, money laundering and the violation of intellectual property rights.
High priority questions such as relations with Haiti will get their due attention so that we may live and work together better in mutual respect and the knowledge that we are, as I have said many times, "a married couple who cannot divorce" and whose interest it is to live in harmony. We will also push forward the free trade agreement now before Congress. I will fight for respect and collaboration between the state and the churches, guaranteeing all citizens freedom of religion and collaborating in all programmes of social work which require state aid.
The government will favour private sector initiative whether that arises from large firms, small firms or any professional or social group. If I have said that I mean to regularise some questionable areas in the corporate structure of government companies, I want to make it clear that I am convinced that the government should leave to private enterprise those activities which are natural to it.
At the same time I must make clear that in developing countries like ours the government cannot and must not put aside its functions as a regulator dedicated to stimulating competition and allowing a better and more efficient assignation of resources in the market.
These objectives lead me to promote economic reforms to do with the transparency of matters of the budget, customs, monetary affairs and finance as well as energy, hydrocarbons, education, trade, health and other matters related to the proper ordering of a society which faces the challenges of a globalisation which must be shaped to the benefit of the Dominican nation.
I repeat that I will work with those men and women of allied parties inside and outside the country who helped me to electoral victory with the Dominican Revolutionary Party and I will seek the support of other sectors which want to help to achieve our enormous task.
It is my wish that my government will be open to all those men and women of good will who want to work for the betterment of the lives of the poor and the prosperity of all the citizenry.
I want to realise the dearest dreams of our late and beloved leader José Francisco Peña Gómez and of Antonio Guzmán Fernández. Above all I want to leave the presidency with my family and my people saying that I was a worthy person and a constructive and honest president.
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