Ambassador Jean Elizabeth Manes
Wednesday December 6, 10:00 AM, MARTE
I want to thank everyone here, for your commitment to the country. Not just the people who are working for FOMILENIO, but also all of you who are here today to hold us accountable, because it’s mechanisms such as this public presentation of the Annual Report of FOMILENIO II, which allow us to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and as public officials, it is our duty to do so.
Transparency is not just good practice, in a modern society. It is the way in which the private sector grows its companies. It is the way in which governments build a country, through trust, commitment, and true fulfillment of promises. It is built by establishing expectations and fulfilling them without excuses or pretexts.
FOMILENIO II is an investment, and the Government of the United States invests in El Salvador, because we are convinced of the potential, the talent and the ambitions of the Salvadoran people. At the Embassy we work according to a philosophy: we are here to support Salvadoran efforts. FOMILENIO II is a clear example of this philosophy, to support a plan drawn up by the Salvadoran government, and which is being implemented by the Salvadoran government. But like any investment, it will require commitment to achieve the best results and willingness to work together to ensure its long-term return. And just as it is the government’s responsibility to demonstrate this commitment, it is also the responsibility of citizens to hold their government accountable.
This presentation is taking place during the week of transparency, and one of the topics of discussion is the participación e incidencia ciudadana para la construcción de una cultura de transparencia. And this is important because a country is built by its people, all of them, not just the government. Everyone has a role to play. Because corruption can only exist if a system is in place for it to thrive. Corruption is not just about one or two people. Corruption is systematic, it’s endemic, it can only exist when there is an infrastructure in place that allows the exploitation of legal loopholes. And in order to bring this infrastructure down, the creation of mechanisms that break that exploitation are necessary.
Events like today, are one of those mechanisms. A way of not not only showing the progress that has been done, but that also allows everyone to question any decision.
For the past two years, FOMILENIO II has been setting up the groundwork, focusing on the least sexy work. It has been about policy and regulatory reform, it has been about cutting down tramitología and bureaucracy. This initial process, often tedious and long, is necessary because it’s not just about doing the right thing, it’s also about doing things right. And doing things right starts at the very beginning.
And what this means is that the schools that will be built, and the roads that will be paved, the processes and procedures that have been and will continue to be modernized, will guarantee the most efficient and effective use of funds, and will allow El Salvador to reap the long term benefits of the investment.
Because building a school, equipping it and guaranteeing it’s staffed properly, means that XXX children will graduate as qualified technicians in fields of study that are needed in the current work market, in industries that will help the country grow.
Because paving a highway will connect two important stretches for the commerce route, and the more fluid transportation works, the less time it takes to get from one point to the other, the higher El Salvador’s competitiveness will be.
Time is of the essence. Time is the one element, that we can not produce. We can not make more time, we can only be more efficient in its use. Every day is an opportunity. Every day is a chance to change what needs to be changed, to work on priorities, to seize opportunities. And every day that is wasted, translates to businesses not being launched, jobs not being created, youths being lost to migration and gangs.
We must all work with deadlines, with sense of urgency. Because the time to act is now. And tomorrow is built on what we do today.