November 25, 2013
Legislation to implement a major overhaul of Mexico’s telecommunications industry will not be approved until early next year, pushing back a deadline set for December, two senior lawmakers said on Saturday.
The secondary laws set out the fine print for a telecoms reform promulgated in June by President Enrique Pena Nieto which gives regulators sweeping powers to rein in billionaire Carlos Slim’s telecoms giant America Movil and dominant broadcaster Televisa.
November 25, 2013
The Los Angeles Times, 11/22/2013
Several lawmakers and heads of local governance associations recently have begun accusing legislators in the Mexican Congress of also regularly shaking down municipal governments, demanding that they kick back “tithes” of at least 10% if they want infrastructure projects included in federal budget plans. Sometimes the lawmakers allegedly demand that projects be built by specific companies that are run by their cronies.
Though no proof of the practice has emerged, the allegations have plunged Mexico City, the capital, into full scandal mode, with investigations demanded and lawsuits threatened. Former allies have turned on one another.
November 15, 2013
The Globe and Mail, 11/15/2013
Just about everything except the mouths of politicians seems to the paralyzed in the U.S. political system, especially Congress. Getting one big thing done seems next to impossible.
In Canada, the government can get things through the Commons and Senate, courtesy of its majority in both houses. But negotiate with the opposition parties? Are you crazy?
In Mexico, by contrast, something remarkable and controversial is unfolding. In less than a year, President Enrique Pena Nieto and his party are negotiating with both other parties in Congress on an array of reforms that would leave the legislatures of Canada and the United States breathless.
November 14, 2013
Mexico’s Congress authorized the widest budget gap in four years as President Enrique Pena Nieto seeks to boost growth in Latin America’s second-biggest economy from the slowest pace since the 2009 recession.
The lower house approved early this morning the 2014 spending plan of the budget, which calls for 4.47 trillion pesos ($343 billion) in outlays. Next year’s budget, which forecasts a deficit of 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, now goes to Pena Nieto for signing. The 2014 gap compares with a 0.4 percent deficit planned by the government for this year.
November 13, 2013
Accused a generation ago of engineering the “perfect dictatorship,” Mexico’s ruling party is now close to agreeing on a plan that could weaken the presidency and strengthen Congress in order to win votes for a major energy reform. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its opposition rivals are shortly expected to unveil the blueprint for a reform aimed at giving Congress greater oversight of government and allowing lawmakers to serve consecutive terms.
Billed as a step forward for democracy, the electoral reform is a bargaining chip for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s most ambitious plan – changing the constitution to allow more private capital into the state-controlled oil industry.
November 8, 2013
Mexico has room for further fiscal reform to improve its tax base because a bill passed by Congress last week still leaves it well behind countries with stronger revenues, credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said on Thursday. Mexico’s Congress approved a package of measures last week, including higher taxes for the rich and levies on junk food and stock market gains in a bid to increase the country’s paltry tax take, one of the weakest in the Americas.
Before the tax reform was presented in September, senior officials in President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) said the aim was to boost revenues by four percent of gross domestic product. But the bill that was eventually floated was less ambitious. And the reform approved is only expected to up the take by around 2.5 percent of GDP by 2018, the finance ministry said.
October 30, 2013
A radical transformation of Mexico’s economy is on the horizon. Under the leadership of new President Enrique Peña Nieto, the country’s congress will by the end of this year almost certainly pass a constitutional amendment to open up its oil and natural gas sector to private investment. By this time in 2014 the likes of ExxonMobil, PetroChina and Norway’s Statoil could even have contracts in place to start exploring for Mexico’s untapped oil and gas bounty.
October 7, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 10/7/2013
In April, the lower house of Mexico’s Congress overwhelmingly approved a proposal to lift a long-standing constitutional provision that prohibits foreigners from directly owning property along the nation’s coasts and borders. The proposal now is subject to the approval of the upper chamber, where the chances appear good.
Proponents of the constitutional change are hoping it will spur new foreign investment, which has been limited of late by concerns about drug cartel violence and the 2008 financial crash in the United States. Opponents insist that Mexico’s beaches should remain solely in the hands of Mexicans. Some of the feeling is rooted in a historical mistrust of outsiders.
September 24, 2013
Mexico’s Congress will revise its proposed 2014 budget in the wake of some of the worst storm damage in decades, President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Sunday as the death toll from widespread flooding and mudslides rose to some 115.
August 21, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 8/20/2013
Mexico in recent years has made significant progress in correcting authorities’ traditional practice of hiding information from the public. Availing themselves of a relatively new freedom-of-information law, journalists and ordinary citizens have been able to learn facts that the government sought to hide — from homicide statistics to what the first lady spends on her wardrobe.
But this week, Congress was poised to change the law governing the Federal Institute for Access to Information, or IFAI, in ways that critics say will gut the public’s ability to gain access to important, sometimes sensitive, material. In discussions held largely behind closed doors, congressional committees approved a provision that would allow the Supreme Court to review and potentially overturn any decision by the IFAI. As it stands now, the institute receives petitions from citizens, reviews the request and then, if in agreement, orders the target of the petition to disclose the information sought.