Faced with criticism from businesses lobbying for economic incentives to help them ride out the coronavirus pandemic, President López Obrador defended his economic strategy yesterday of directing aid to Mexico’s poor and elderly populations.
The charge is being led by Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, who held a press conference Wednesday on behalf of the private sector urging the president to reconsider his stance.
Central to this drive is the Business Coordinating Council (CCE), which requested a deferral of annual tax payments for six months and allowing the payment of these taxes to be made in installments and other similar measures it deemed essential to keeping businesses afloat as the pandemic runs its course.
“Today we want to ask the president of Mexico, with respect, that the request the entrepreneurs of this country are making can be met and can be the reason for a very broad agreement at the national level to find ways we can support entrepreneurs and ensure that people don’t lose their jobs,” the governor said.
López Obrador acknowledged Alfaro and the CCE’s request but held firm to his plan to first put aid in the hands of the country’s neediest and most vulnerable populations.
Citing previous programs offering economic aid to businesses during times of crises, such as the scandal-ridden Banking Fund to Protect Savings (FOBAPROA) — a contingencies fund that converted bank debt into public debt during the financial crisis of the mid-90s, López Obrador vowed to protect the country from corrupt “neoliberalism” policies employed by his political predecessors.
This approach to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is well in line with the populism that defined both his campaign and his presidency thus far.
Any deferral or reduction of taxes means less money in the government’s coffers, López Obrador explained, and therefore fewer resources available to provide for “older adults, girls and boys with disabilities and peasants and to grant credits to small family businesses.”
“I am confident that we are going to achieve a speedy economic recovery because we have very solid foundations,” López Obrador said, adding that six million Mexican seniors have already received public aid.
“Some economic sectors want us to apply the same recipes as before,” he stated. “That, faced with a crisis, we ask the people to tighten their belts. Not anymore. We have to protect the poor first.”
Source: Reforma (sp)