Ruling party lawmakers have postponed a plan to approve a legislative change that would increase the powers of the CEO of Pemex after President López Obrador made it clear that he didn’t support it.
Manuel Rodríguez González, a Morena party deputy and president of the energy committee of the lower house of Congress, announced yesterday afternoon that the reform to the Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) Law would not be approved in committee as had been scheduled.
Under the proposed change backed by Morena party members, the Pemex board could not meet without CEO Octavio Romero in attendance and only he would be authorized to make or sign off on important decisions about the operation and direction of the company, including adjustments to fuel prices and the appointment and dismissal of executives.
Critics of the initiative have charged that López Obrador would have complete control of the state-run company with the Pemex chief serving as his proxy.
“Everything is reprogrammed,” Rodríguez said, referring to the scheduled appearance of Romero in Congress today and the session planned to approve the proposed reform.
“. . . We’re going to establish working groups. The process of analysis, discussion and in due course approval [of the reform] could now take several weeks,” he explained.
At his daily press conference yesterday morning, López Obrador rejected the proposal outright and any suggestion that it had come from him.
“There’s no proposal on our part. We didn’t approve it. In the executive, we don’t want any modification . . . because we don’t want to give them excuses, excuses to those who have looted Pemex,” he said.
“If we suggested something like that now, what would they say? They’d shout like town criers that we’re acting arbitrarily and that there won’t be counterbalances in Pemex. No, no, no, no, we won’t touch [the issue] not even with a rose petal, in other words, no modification, no modification,” the president declared.
Asked whether any change was needed to the company’s corporate governance model, López Obrador responded: “It’s not necessary . . . and it would give them an excuse to say this authoritarian government doesn’t take experts and civil society into account.”
Pemex has debt of more than US $100 billion and a credit rating by both Fitch and Moody’s that is just one level above junk status.
López Obrador presented a 107-billion-peso (US $5.5-billion) rescue plan for the company last week but financial institutions and Fitch expressed skepticism that it would be enough to prevent another credit rating downgrade.