Signage at Google's office building in New York, New York, USA, 20 January 2023. EFE/EPA/JUSTIN LANE

500 million dollar agreement with Google kept secret by El Salvador

San Salvador, Oct 11 (EFE).- El Salvador’s Foreign Ministry has declared a $500 million agreement between Google and President Nayib Bukele’s government secret for seven years, according to an Access to Public Information (UAIP) resolution obtained by EFE.

The document, dated October 5, was included in the reply to a citizen requesting a copy of the agreement.

“It is kindly reported that the identified instrument has a confidentiality clause and declaration of reserve” (sic), indicated the Ministry.

It justified the confidentiality clause by referring to Section 19, Letter C, of the Law on Access to Public Data, which states that classified data ‘undermines international relations’ and ‘the conduct of diplomatic negotiations in the country.’

However, the document signed by President Bukele and Google representatives was not part of any negotiations with another country or its diplomatic representatives.

On August 29, a statement announced that the government of El Salvador and Google Cloud had reached a 7-year agreement to “help the country become a technology hub in Central America.”

On September 5, the Salvadoran Congress, with the ruling party’s votes, approved a law that requires the state to allocate at least $500 million and designates the US tech giant as a “strategic partner.”

The law approved by the Assembly authorizes all state institutions to “issue administrative acts and sign affiliation agreements and any other type of contract or agreement with the strategic partner (Google) to implement the alliance.

To carry out the contracting of services, each institution is allowed to establish a budget allocation for each fiscal year. According to Article 4 of the Law, the Salvadoran State must guarantee that the total budget allocations of all institutions that contract the service will be “at least five hundred million dollars in total during the fiscal years.”

To contract the services offered by Google, the regulations state that neither the Organic Law of the State Financial Administration (AFI Law) nor the Public Procurement Law will be applied.

The procedure will be carried out by an administrative body to be created in the future. The law does not contain any provision on the establishment of regulations.

The law also does not establish any investment obligations for Google in El Salvador. However, legislators from the ruling New Ideas Party (NI) have indicated that the company will invest in the country.

The regulations state their purpose is to “establish the necessary provisions for the implementation, development, digital transformation, and modernization of the Salvadoran state.” EFE