Differences of opinion with senior government officials and the president himself were behind Carlos Urzúa’s decision to resign as finance secretary, President López Obrador said today.
The president told reporters at his regular morning news conference that his chief of staff, Alfonso Romo, new finance chief Arturo Herrera and Federal Tax Administration chief Margarita Ríos-Farjat were among the members of his administration who clashed with the outgoing secretary.
However, López Obrador rejected that there were any problems between Urzúa and senior Finance Secretariat official Raquel Buenrostro as has been widely speculated.
Urzúa announced his resignation yesterday in a scathing letter that criticized the public policy decision making process within the government and the appointment of officials with no knowledge of public finances to the department he headed.
Policy decisions were made “without sufficient foundation,” while “influential people in the current government with a clear conflict of interest” were responsible for the “unacceptable” appointment of unqualified officials, he said.
López Obrador today rejected the conflict of interest charge and said the same team will continue at the Secretariat of Finance, asserting that he has been responsible for appointing officials to high-ranking roles within the government, with the exception of the director of the Federal Tax Administration.
The president acknowledged that he too had differences with Urzúa, explaining that one disagreement was about the content of the National Development Plan, a wide-ranging public policy blueprint that serves as a roadmap for the government during its six-year term of office.
“I had differences with him; I respect him a lot but we’re in a process of transition. Nothing is hidden here . . . Among other disagreements, we had one about the [National] Development Plan, there were two versions and the version that was chosen was the version I authorized, in fact I wrote it,” López Obrador said.
“There was another version and I felt that it was a preservation of the status quo,” he added, charging that the discarded plan appeared to have been written by former Bank of México governor Agustín Carstens or José Antonio Meade, a former cabinet secretary and the Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate in the 2018 presidential election.
That version – which was supported by Urzúa – was not congruent with the government’s vision to banish the neoliberal policy model of the past, López Obrador said.
“People voted to change the economic policy that impoverished the majority of people,” he said, adding that the government is undertaking a process of transformation.
“We could even say that it’s a rupture [from the past] . . . I’ve said that it’s not a simple change of government, it’s a change of the system and that leads to [different] points of views and discrepancies that even cause confrontations within the same group,” López Obrador said.
The president revealed that Urzúa, a widely respected economist and adherent of fiscal discipline, had proposed delaying the announcement of his resignation until Saturday in order to mitigate the impact of the news on financial markets.
But López Obrador said that he rejected the proposal on the grounds that it was unnecessary, charging that Urzúa’s resignation wouldn’t have any negative impact on the economy.
“Why wait until Saturday? No, straight away, let’s go!”
The president declined to rule out the possibility of more resignations from his cabinet but asserted that the most important thing is that the government is continuing to forge ahead “without problems.”