The renewal of all the mobile devices of the deputies has generated controversy even among the parliamentary spokesmen themselves. After it was made public that Congress is going to allocate a budget of more than one million euros to the acquisition of state-of-the-art phones and tablets to replace those that were delivered in 2018, several political parties have been openly against such spending.
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The most critical have been the spokespersons for Podemos and Ciudadanos. “We have analyzed the issue and we think that there is still a possibility that a sumptuous expense like this will not be carried out and we are going to work to avoid it. Do deputies have to have a modern and secure terminal? Yes, but it doesn’t have to be a very expensive cell phone,” said Pablo Echenique, from United We Can. Harder still, Edmundo Bal, from Ciudadanos, referred to that item of spending, which he came to describe as “disgraceful and embarrassing.” Bal also defined it as an “offense” for citizens who suffer the consequences of inflation. “The price is really crazy,” he opined.
The item was approved unanimously by all the members of the Congress Bureau at a meeting held last June. The parliamentary groups of PSOE, PP, VOX and United We Can are represented in that body. The spokesman for the purples assured this Thursday at a press conference that “when we saw the news in the press we have started to investigate” because, according to his version, “we did not have the approval of that decision located” that his three companions had also ratified. rows present at the table. “We discovered that they had sneaked us in one of the last meetings before the summer,” said Echenique.
Parliamentary sources from United We Can recall that in recent months there had been several cases of deputies who reported problems with their phones or tablets related to use, and that for them specific arrangements or replacements of their terminals had been proposed and not a comprehensive renovation. But they deny having consciously supported a game that they allege was not sufficiently explicit on the agenda of the Board meeting that gave the go-ahead. They do recognize, however, that in that meeting there were those who openly proposed the replacement of their devices and that someone even commented on the possibility of “waiting a bit” for the latest iPhone model to come onto the market.
Finally, the proposal of the Chamber’s technical teams was not the latest model but the immediately preceding one, with all the recommended security features but with a slightly lower price, between 900 and 1,250 euros per terminal. Sources from the presidency of Congress emphasize that this proposal from the technicians was debated “several times” in the Contracting Board, where the four vice presidents of the Chamber are represented, including the United We Can, Gloria Elizo. These same sources insist that it is a fully justified expense as it is an essential work tool for the deputies and for the staff of the house and whose last renovation dates back to 2018 (in the Senate, for example, they are usually replaced every two years). And they remember that, in any case, it is material owned by Congress and not by the deputies, who have to return it when they stop exercising their functions.
Citizens reject their phones
Although the services of the Chamber do not believe that it is possible to reverse a process that is already tendered and published in the BOE, Ciudadanos has registered this Thursday a petition for the Bureau to stop it. “Request for the Table to withdraw the award offer for the supply of mobile terminals, device management system and associated services (…) before the deadline for submitting applications expires,” reads the letter. Those of Inés Arrimadas also announce that in the event of not being withdrawn, “all the member deputies will renounce the delivery of the terminals and will continue working with the model that they have already used up to now.”
Among the rest of the parliamentary groups, the general feeling is that it is an unfounded controversy. “It seems to us an artificial controversy,” they comment from the PNV. “If the Table or the Contracting Board has made the decision to renew the telephones, it will have done so after analyzing that their update is necessary. It is clear that the mobile is an essential work tool and, therefore, it does not seem to be exactly an example of unnecessary spending. Much more debatable things have been seen in recent years”, point out the Basque nationalists.
The PP spokeswoman, Cuca Gamarra, expressed herself in similar terms. “The mobiles belong to the Chamber. It is up to the government of the Chamber to make the appropriate decisions on an instrument and work tool for the deputies, ”she limited herself to answering after being asked about it. “I find them to be quite demagogic debates because they are work tools of the deputies”, settled, for his part, the socialist spokesman, Patxi López. More skeptical was the deputy for Más País, Íñigo Errejón: “Personally I don’t need a new generation terminal or more features because with the one we have we can do our job perfectly.”
The Official State Gazette (BOE) published this Wednesday, September 7, a tender worth 1,018,789 euros under the concept of “Supply of mobile terminals, device management system and associated services” for the total replacement of all the old devices for some of the latest generation. Since 2018, the deputies have an iPhone 8, which will now be replaced by the iPhone 13, a high-end terminal. The BOE specifies the purchase of more than 800 terminals with two types of profiles depending on the mobile required, which can be an iPhone or a Samsung. Specifically, the acquisition of 550 iPhone units is specified, which must be carrier-free, have an iOS 15 operating system or higher, a 6.06-inch OLED screen, 512 GB capacity, facial recognition and geolocation.