A month ago the president Ivan duque
announced the purchase of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines
. However, precise information such as amounts or conditions is not known, since the government must respect confidentiality agreements.
Camilo Enciso, from the Anticorruption Institute, said that this situation leaves « more doubts than clarity around this whole issue. »
“From the beginning the way the national government has approached everything related to contracts has been very opaque, very dark. There are many concerns left. Just to raise one, which is clear from the statements made by the minister yesterday, I would put this example: yesterday they mentioned in one of the videos that passed in the top show that the president has in the afternoons the following information: they say that 9 million vaccines have been purchased with one of the multinationals. However, the Minister of Health, in the statement given a few minutes later, does not speak of 9 million doses but rather 5 million doses. Here there are abysmal differences. We are talking about 4 million difference, where one really wonders what is the content, the scope of what the national government has supposedly agreed with the companies that are going to provide the vaccines to serve the Colombian population, « said Enciso.
But perhaps the biggest doubt is « why the national government is now invoking the exception or exceptions of articles 18 and 19 of the law on transparency and access to public information that, in our interpretation, does not apply in this case » .
According to the director of the institute, “what is happening is that the government is saying that these contracts cannot be published because they are protected information for one of two reasons. The first because it applies an industrial secret; One understands that pharmaceutical companies that have made gigantic investments for the development of vaccines want to protect their information that has to do with their patents, with their research, that is reasonable. What is not reasonable is that the rest of the contracts, including the amounts, the delivery date, and the delivery locations, are not proactively disclosed to the public ”.
The second exception invoked by the government, says Enciso, “is that of Article 19, which literally says that the State may not publish information when it is related to damage to public interests in public health cases. This is where the government’s argument seems strongest. But therein lies the problem of not reading the complete rules, of not reading the laws in their entirety and harmoniously, because that same article, in its introductory part, says that this reservation is possible provided that such access is expressly prohibited by legal or constitutional rule. What journalists should be asking the government at this time is what is the constitutional or legal norm that allows the government not to publish these contracts. «
Thus, Enciso considers that « the government’s arguments are weak, they do not persuade us and we believe that the principle of transparency and access to public information should prevail. »
Knowing if there really is a vaccine contract « becomes an act of faith » because there is no contract to prove it.