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Trunk Gas Pipelines and the difficulty of accessing public information in the province

On the occasion of the completion of the Trunk Pipeline Work in the province of Córdoba, last year we made 5 requests for information to provincial agencies. When we did not get any response, we presented a prompt dispatch to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. The difficulties we have encountered in accessing information about this project have been constant since its inception.

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Since 2014, we have made various requests for information on this emblematic project to both the Provincial Government and the National Government. On the occasion of the project’s completion, last year between August and October we made a series of requests for information to three departments of the Province of Córdoba directly or indirectly involved in the project, namely: the Córdoba Investment and Financing Agency -ACIF -, the current Ministry of Public Works, former Ministry of Public Works and Financing and the current Ministry of Environment, ex. Ministry of Water, Environment and Public Services.

At the end of 2019, as we had not received a response from any of the provincial agencies for the requests for information made and the response period had ended, we decided to make an early dispatch to the Ministry of the Environment.

It is important to clarify that once the provincial agencies receive a request for information they have 10 days to respond and it can only be extended for an additional 10 days as long as it is reported within the deadline. In the event of an incomplete response or lack of response, as was the case here, a prompt dispatch may be submitted. This resource is the same request for information, but it details the date and details of the request that had been made, together with a warning to initiate legal actions, that is, an injunction for default. Any provincial agency has a term of 10 to respond to the prompt dispatch, with the possibility of extending it for another 10 days, as well as with requests for information. In our case, the prompt dispatch was carried out in mid-December 2019, however the Ministry of the Environment responded to us only in February 2020, that is, the deadline was more than expired.

Thanks to the prompt dispatch made, we received the response to the request for information made in August 2019. The request requested information on the final layout of the project, location and number of inhabitants, businesses and industries benefited by the works and the state of situation. of the project. According to the information provided, all the Regional Systems are completed with provisional and / or definitive reception of the work.

In addition, we inquired about the companies and / or Transitory Business Units (UTEs) that participated in the project as well as what were the details and characteristics of the plan for connecting the home units to the Trunk Systems Regarding this last query, the provincial agency He replied that by means of a protocolized Agreement No. 024/2017 signed by the province of Córdoba, the Banco de Córdoba and the Distribuidora de Gas del Centro SA The “Fund for the Financing of Natural Gas Home Networks” was approved. It established the guidelines and requirements that the adhering municipalities must meet to allow the neighbors the possibility of obtaining financing to face the costs of connecting to natural gas in the home networks. In line with the above, the origin of the financing of the Provincial Plan Connect Gas Industry that enables the connection to the natural gas service to Shops, SMEs, Industries, Industrial Parks, among others, was consulted. This Program has a Banco de Córdoba financing line of $ 200,000,000, an amount that is loanable up to 100% of the value of the work according to the client’s classification. Also, the Program has financing of $ 100,000,000 from the Federal Investment Council.

Most of the information requested had previously been requested in requests for information that we made in previous years but in which we did not receive any response. Information that would have been optimal to have long before.

The lack of response to requests for information, such as non-compliance with the deadlines stipulated by Provincial Law 8803 on Access to Public Information (called the Law on Access to Knowledge of State Acts), hints, again, not only the great difficulty currently existing to access public information in the hands of the government of the Province, but also how outdated this law is, which dates back to 1999. Consequently, last year together with social organizations we requested through a document the update of this Provincial Law in accordance with the guidelines of the Inter-American Model Law and the National Law of Access to Public Information.

Access to public information is a human right that strengthens citizen participation, transparency in public administration, and democratic governance. For this reason, it is necessary to update the provincial Law in this matter in order to solve the shortcomings it possesses, incorporating the highest standards and guaranteeing control mechanisms that supervise its compliance.

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  • Gonzalo Roza
  • Sofia Brocanelli