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03TEGUCIGALPA2941 2003-12-18 21:09:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tegucigalpa
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1. In an effort to decrease government spending, and meet
the specifications of the recently negotiated IMF agreement,
the GOH has announced that there will be "changes" within
various government ministries. As such, President Ricardo
Maduro appears to be planning to streamline the GOH by
restructuring certain departments, and in some cases
eliminating certain ministries altogether.

2. It is rumored that the Ministry of Culture, Arts, and
Sports and the Honduran Institute of Science and Technology
will be absorbed by the Ministry of Education. (Note: The
Minister of Culture position is currently held by Mireya
Batres, President Maduro's ex-fiancee. End Note.) Also, it
is rumored that the Ministry of International Cooperation
(SETCO) will be absorbed by either the Ministry of the
Presidency or the Foreign Ministry.

3. Other possible changes within the GOH include fusing the
National Agrarian Institute, the Ministry of Agriculture and
Livestock, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and
Environment into one separate entity, as it once was. Also,
it is rumored that the Honduran Foundation for Social
Investment (FHIS) will be eliminated, with the Ministry of
Government taking over certain duties performed by FHIS.
Other potential targets of the restructuring effort include
the fusion of the Central Bank and the National Commission of
Banks and Insurance, as well as combining the duties of the
Office of Procurement, the National Telecom Commission, and
the Office of Licenses and Commissions.

4. Rumors also continue of impending changes in President
Maduro's cabinet. After two years in office, President
Maduro may possibly exchange some "technical" ministers
(technocrats) for more "political" ones (politicians). The
following individuals are rumored in the press to be on their
way out for a wide array of reasons: Minister of Public
Works Jorge Carranza; Minister of Government Jorge Ramon
Hernandez Alcerro; Minister of Finance Arturo Alvarado;
Minister of Education Carlos Avila; Minister of Health Elias
Lizardo; Minister of Culture Mireya Batres; Minister of Trade
Norman Garcia; Minister of International Aid Coordination
Brenie Matute; the National Electric Company's Angelo
Botazzi; and Hondutel's Arturo Valenzuela. Possible reasons
for dismissals vary from minister to minister, but include
government reorganization, a desire to run for political
office, political scapegoating, and lack of political skills.

5. COMMENT: Currently, any specifics about the
restructuring process or cabinet changes are only rumors.
President Maduro appears to have decided that certain
adjustments will help fulfill the IMF agreement and create a
less bureaucratic, more efficient government. However, the
President has not yet spoken publicly about possible changes.
It does seem that the targets of the realignment will be the
ministries whose work is on the periphery of the most
pressing political issues. Post notes that several of the
potentially affected ministries have told EmbOffs that their
ministries will not be eliminated. END COMMENT.