Allegations have surfaced that the President of Cascais Câmara, António Capucho, has spent vast sums on information technology without accounting for the expenditure through the appropriate municipal channels.
Conceição Cordeiro, municipal director responsible for public relations, says that since Capucho came to power in January 2003, his authority has spent more than three million euros on IT. Most of the spending stemmed from direct rulings from the authority following proposals from the municipal director, or the co-ordinator of the Information and Telecommunications Division, but Capucho has justified the decisions by citing his prerogative as President of the câmara.
The câmara confers a wide array of powers on its President – including the power to order the acquisition of goods and services. But the law also stipulates a ceiling on expenditure of this kind – 750,000 euros – and insists that the President must inform the appropriate câmara bodies about spending decisions immediately.
Socialist councillor, Umberto Pacheco, says this regulation is not being followed. Pacheco alleges that spending is out of control and excessive, one of the issues that has led the Socialists to seek an audit from the Ministry of Finances and file a complaint in court. Both appeals were unsuccessful.
Capucho insists his spending has been put to good use, citing the replacement of computers, a new system of document management and wider use of the internet. “Our computer network used to consist of 500 terminals, whereas today we have more than 1,100 users linked up. We had only seven buildings connected in 2002 – we have 22 today,” he said.