Public institutions which apply fines need to follow laws which establish how the amount collected in paid infractions should be used
There’s a popular saying that says the pocket is the most sensitive organ of the human body – an obvious reference to the application of fines in the event of any non-compliance of a rule defined by law or which has been established between two parties.
Infractions are a financial and bureaucratic headache for those who are punished, and represent considerable amounts which are channeled to the organs which collect them. The question is getting to know where the money obtained by fines goes, and how it is used.
To address this issue, our news team investigated the destiny of the money paid in fines to three different public institutions: DETRAN-PR (Paraná’s Traffic State Department), IBAMA (Brazilian Environment and National Resources Institute) and IAP (Paraná Environmental Institute).
DETRAN-PR collected R$ 65,103,993.11
From January to October last year, DETRAN-PR collected R$ 65,103,993.11 in fines all over the state. Not all the money collected by the department was kept by the organ.
Article 320 of the Brazilian Traffic Code, regulated by Resolution 638/2016 of DENATRAN (Brazil’s National Traffic Department), defines how the resources obtained from fines and infractions registered by the state organ should be allocated and applied.
The law stipulates that every resource obtained from fines needs to be allocated exclusively to actions destined to improve traffic, including road signage works, projects to improve traffic and raising awareness among drivers in roads and highways.
According to information provided by the organ, 30 percent of the amount collected until October was destined to DREM (Income Disengagement of States and Municipalities), a mechanism which allows state governments and city councils to reallocate 30 percent of the income obtained on fines, taxes, and contributions of specific applications.
Out of the amount left, 80 percent was directed to FUNESP (Special Fund for Paraná Public Safety), and 20 percent was kept by the state traffic organ to be used for road signage and remote learning purposes, such as the recycling course and the Traffic Public School.
IBAMA issued 508 notices of violation in the state
IBAMA issued until last December 508 notices of violation throughout Paraná. Violations involved issues regarding environmental technical registrations, fishing, flora, and environmental control. The total of infractions fined reached R$ 346.69 million. That doesn’t mean, however, the organ has already been paid that amount, since there are cases currently under analysis, and others are pending homologation. According to a spreadsheet available in the institution’s website, violations already paid by the offenders in the state throughout last year totaled little over R$ 823.95 thousand.
IBAMA doesn’t keep any of the money obtained with fines: 20 percent goes to the National Environment Fund, and the remainder is transferred to the federal government.
Decree 6,514 of July 22, 2008, defines violations and administrative sanctions regarding the environment and establishes the federal administrative process to investigate such violations.
As soon as IBAMA identifies an environmental violation, it applies the sanctions according to the law, which may range from a fine, an embargo, the suspension of all activities and apprehension. According to the institute’s technical department, about one-third of all fines issued are paid. Historically, however, most fines paid have a reduced value and represent about 5 percent of the total amount issued.
The situation in Paraná’s Environmental Institute
The Environmental Institute of Paraná (IAP) is responsible for inspecting, monitoring and providing environmental licenses. Between January and November 2018, the organ collected around R$ 7.88 million from the payment of environmental fines. That figure does not include the amount regarding revenue decentralization.
According to explanations provided by the IAP, the amount is destined to the State Environment Fund, as provided by Law 12,945/2000 and Decree 3,240/2000.
The offender fined by IAP may convert it into projects and services for the environment. The goal is that such violations may be converted into actions aiming at recuperating damaged areas, protecting the native vegetation, taking care and handling species of native wild flora and fauna. Requests must be made at the IAP head office in Curitiba, or in one of the institute’s 21 regional offices, up to 21 days from the moment the author of the violation is informed about it. Further information can be found on the state’s Digital Government website.
Control is made by the Accounting Court
The control over what state institutions are doing with the money obtained from fines is made by the State Accounting Court (TCE-PR). The organ inspects the collections and application of resources obtained by public institutions from the fines issued.
Last year, the court issued a fine of approximately R$ 6.5 million to a former IAP president for, according to the organ, not collecting the money regarding environmental violation sanctions issued from 2008 to 2009. The TCE calculates a loss of almost R$ 65 million to the state’s coffers. The deadline to collect such debts has already expired, and the process is currently in its appeal stage.
Another former president of the IAP has been sued by the TCE for not registering as an overdue tax liability sanctions applied between 2010 and 2015.
In a release, the IAP claimed all information regarding such cases were provided to the TCE at the time the courts discovered the irregularities, and has sued the institute ex-presidents, saying it is at the court’s disposal for further clarifications. The document published also claims the IAP no longer answers for the former presidents, since they no longer have any connection to the agency.
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