- Associated Press - Thursday, March 22, 2012

SAO PAULO (AP) - A government watchdog group is warning Brazilian authorities that planning delays could compromise the 2014 World Cup.

The Brazilian Audit Court, which is responsible for overseeing how the Brazilian government spends public money, said on Thursday the Sports Ministry is not properly managing the costs involved in the preparations for the World Cup and the lack of organization could jeopardize the tournament’s success.

The Audit Court said it has given the Sports Ministry 60 days to review its planning process so it can properly control costs and demand action from those responsible for the World Cup projects.

The watchdog group said the ministry hasn’t been updating the document created in 2010 to establish the responsibilities for the projects, promoting uncertainty and diminishing the government’s ability to keep track of the work which still hasn’t been completed.

Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo downplayed delays in Brazil’s preparations Thursday, saying that everything will be ready in time.

“Brazilians have their own way of organizing and they always deliver what is needed,” he said.

The Audit Court said it was crucial for the government to be able to identify the “essential” actions needed to prepare the country and to know how much they will cost.

The minister in charge of the Audit Court report, Valmir Campelo, said the Sports Ministry was ultimately responsible for managing these actions and it needs to prioritize them.

“(The ministry) is in control of what needs to be executed,” Campelo said.

The government watchdog group has been warning of delays in Brazil’s preparations, including in stadium construction and infrastructure work.

It said recently that funds for infrastructure projects in the 12 host cities were not being provided fast enough, and that only two stadiums _ in Salvador and Fortaleza _ have more than 50 percent of their construction work completed. With just over two years before the World Cup, the Arena da Baixada in the southern city of Curitiba has less than 9 percent of its work completed.

“The longer it takes, there will be a greater need to improvise,” Campelo said. “As the time goes by, we become more worried.”

The watchdog group said little was being done to keep some of the stadiums from becoming “white elephants” after the Confederations Cup and the World Cup. It said four venues currently fit the category _ Curitiba, Cuiaba, Natal and the jungle city of Manaus.

The Audit Court said the estimated overall cost for the World Cup and next year’s Confederations Cup has already increased by $900 million, from $12.8 billion to $13.7 billion. It said it recognized overspending in several projects, altering them to save nearly $275,000. The Maracana, which will host the World Cup final, was among the projects changed after monitoring from the watchdog group.


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