By Andrew Willis, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s minister of planning, Miriam Belchior, said Monday, November 19th, that spending levels under the country’s massive Growth Acceleration Program (PAC) have set new records for investments. The minister conceded, however, that improvements were still possible, amid reports that many PAC-funded projects are severely behind schedule.
The implementation of PAC and PAC 2 projects has been mixed in Rio’s Rocinha favela community for example. Several projects came to a standstill last year, with some incomplete buildings now being squatted by people looking for shelter, reported the O Globo newspaper this week.
This is the case of an incomplete daycare center, now being used as housing by roughly thirty people, while another half-built construction, set to be a future market, is currently being used as a car parking lot.
The model créche, located at 445 da Estrada da Gávea, is destined to cater for 75 children, but is now serving as a makeshift home for adults and children living in poor conditions, sharing the space with rubbish and animals.
“The bathrooms are communal. Some were already completed, others we finished ourselves,” said Francisco Luís da Costa, one of the building’s inhabitants, according to the newspaper. Both the créche and market are building projects under the first PAC program, with Rocinha also set to receive building works under the PAC-2 program.
The government has said that mobility and accessibility are set to be priorities under the new program in the pacified favela, with the building of a cable car among the projects most anticipated by the community’s residents.
The Growth Acceleration Program was originally launched in January 2007 by former president Lula da Silva, designed to booth Brazil’s growth levels with a budget of R$504 billion for infrastructure projects. Current President Dilma Rousseff has continued the program under the name PAC-2, with a budget of R$959 billion for the period 2011 until 2014.
During a presentation on Monday, Belchior said that disbursements totaled R$386 billion between January 2011 and September 2012, equivalent to 40.4 percent of the spending total scheduled for the end of 2014.
Spending levels were particularly high between June and September of this year, said the minister, adding that the pace of implementation of PAC-2 projects is “good, but can still improve.[...] From our point of view we are able to realize what is needed, but we are never satisfied,” she said.
The minister conceded that the government has faced legal difficulties regarding certain projects, as well as a number of strikes at construction sites, leading to delays. A special team has been set up to deal with these issues, Belchior said.
“Every time we have a project problem in the judiciary we have managed to resolve this quickly so that the works can return to the necessary rhythm,” she said.