San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Congress Debates Superintendency Law

GRANADA, Nicaragua – TheNational Assembly this week passed thepolemic Superintendency Law, aimed atincreasing public accountability in thestate’s service sectors of water/sewage,energy, telecommunications and mail.The law gives the Legislative Branchthe power to elect or veto public functionariesnominated by the President to headthose four sectors. It also allows lawmakersto summon functionaries to appear beforethe National Assembly to resolve citizencomplaints or apparent anomalies in themanagement of public services.Boosters of the law claim it will addtransparency, accountability and improveddemocratic controls to Nicaragua’s oftentroubledpublic-service sector, which, inthe cases of energy and telecom, is themost expensive in Central America.Critics of the law argue it is the beginningof a new reform crusade directed byparty bosses Daniel Ortega (Sandinistas)and former President Arnoldo Alemán(Liberals) to pass state power from theExecutive Branch to the LegislativeBranch, which they allegedly control.Most lawmakers dismiss the criticism,noting similar laws exist in other democracies,where Presidential nominationsrequire congressional approval.

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