Carlos Jarque...the John Koskinen of Mexico : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Mexico Government Says Ready For Y2K

(Last updated 1:35 PM ET March 12)

By Martin Roberts

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has a head start over many other governments and expects to inoculate all of its computer systems against the millennium bug six months before the year 2000 begins, a senior spokesman said.

With less than 200 working days left before the new year, Carlos Jarque, the Mexican government's Y2K National Coordinator, said two years of official efforts to beat the computer bug were bearing fruit.

"We see it more as a comparative and competitive advantage than a contingency," Jarque said in a Reuters interview Thursday.

A U.S. Senate report on the millennium bug released on March 2 singled out Mexico, Japan, China, Germany and Taiwan for falling nine months to two years behind schedule.

But Jarque said on the contrary, his country was well positioned to confront any possible problem.

Mexico set up guidelines for Y2K compliance in April 1997 -- well ahead of some other Latin American nations -- and a national commission to coordinate that compliance in June 1998.

Also head of the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Research (INEGI), Jarque said the government had almost completed the fourth of five stages -- awareness, planning, conversion, outside tests and implementation -- in its compliance program, due to be concluded in June.

"What we want is to keep forging ahead in the less than 200 working days we have left, that everyone should do their bit," Jarque said.

Jarque said Mexico's financial sector was due to complete its compliance program under the guidance of the central bank by the end of June.

He estimated that since 1997, the public and private sectors had spent more than $1 billion to convert systems to beat the millennium bug that plagues older computers unable to recognize dates after 1999.

Mexico's government controls many strategic areas of the country's economy -- energy, oil, and a majority of the health sector -- despite a wave of privatization over the past 15 years. That makes official conversion efforts all the more important, Jarque said.

Coordination among private firms was also made easier by the fact that many industries -- including telecommunications, airlines, finance, building materials, construction and retail chains -- are dominated by a small number of firms.

Jarque said a developing country like Mexico also had an advantage when facing the millennium bug because 40 percent of the country's 5 million computers were no more than two years old, and therefore easy to convert.

The main disadvantages developing countries face are a heavy dependence on imported equipment and difficulty in obtaining suitable replacement software, particularly in the small and medium-sized firms where most Mexicans work.

Jarque said INEGI had a list of suppliers for replacement software and parts. He said the Mexican Information Technology Association (AMITI) had set up a Web site to help computer users.

Millennium conversion does not affect many people's everyday lives in Mexico, where computers are used in only one third of small firms, Jarque added.

In addition to millennium conversion at home, Jarque stressed the need for international coordination and noted a Mexican delegation had traveled to Washington in February to hold talks with representatives of Mexico's leading trading partners, the United States and Canada.

Mexico and U.S. representatives discussed how electricity, oil, gas, rail traffic and trade would continue to cross the two countries' common 2,000-mile (3,210-km) border.

Finally, Jarque said the government will hold an advertising campaign to guard against what he called "catastrophic" predictions of what would happen on Jan. 1, 2000. Experts increasingly say public fears about a possible computer bug could be more disruptive than the problem itself.

"The solution is as important as the perception of the solution," he said.


-- Kevin (, March 13, 1999


toro poopoo

-- zorro (, March 14, 1999.

Caca del toro.

-- (ah@si.senor), March 14, 1999.

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