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Lawmakers challenge AMLO over bid for more spending control

Bill would give president power to change the budget in emergency situations

Lawmakers with Mexico’s ruling party and opposition parties have spoken out against a presidential proposal that would allow the executive to make unilateral adjustments to the federal budget in situations of economic emergency.

President López Obrador is seeking to reform the Federal Budget and Fiscal Responsibility Law so that budget changes do not have to be approved by the lower house of Congress in economic emergency situations such as that brought about by the coronavirus crisis.

Even lawmakers with Morena, which López Obrador led to a comprehensive victory in the 2018 election, have described the president’s proposal as invasive and unconstitutional, the newspaper Reforma reported

The party’s interim national president also expressed reservations about the proposal, which was sent to the lower house of Congress last week.

“We must specify what an economic emergency is, … the Chamber [of Deputies] and the executive should do it. As the constitution states who [has the power] to declare a health emergency or a national emergency, let it be clear who will declare an economic emergency,” Alfonso Ramírez Cuéllar said.

“In that way, the constitutional mandate that the Chamber of Deputies is the only power authorized to approve and revise the budget can be saved,” he said.

Deputies with the Institutional Revolutionary Party roundly rejected the presidential proposal.

They said in a statement that it would destroy counterweights in the political system, diminish the separation of powers and violate the constitution.

“The next step would be a dictatorship. No extraordinary situation nor the pretext of an economic crisis justifies the  proposal,” the statement said.

Deputies with the Democratic Revolution Party charged that the proposal is of an “autocratic nature,” adding that its approval would represent a backward step after “many years of democratic progress” in Mexico.

The leader of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in the lower house of Congress described the proposal as “perverse,” asserting that the president could seek to use authority over the budget “to rectify the results of his own irresponsibility in the taking of government decisions.”

Juan Carlos Romero Hicks also criticized the proposal for not establishing who would declare an economic emergency and not specifying the exact controls the president would have over the budget.

PAN president Marko Cortés said the proposal seeks to weaken Mexico’s legislative power, asserting that it would place greater power in the hands of the president.

López Obrador wants to spend public money without any oversight, Cortés charged. “He wants to do it by overriding the Chamber of Deputies, which has the sole authority to approve and modify the federal budget.”

Morena Deputy Lorena Villavicencio said that lawmakers with the ruling party are open to making changes to the presidential proposal but conceded that there is not yet any consensus about what modifications are necessary.

López Obrador claimed on Wednesday morning that the opposition to his proposal is politically motivated.

“The [2021 mid-term] elections are drawing near and they want to turn everything into politics, everything is electoral now. … The deputies will decide [whether to approve the proposal or not], those who represent conservatism not only oppose it but spread propaganda about it,” he said.

Source: Reforma (sp), La Jornada (sp), El Economista (sp), Expansión Política (sp) 

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