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Slim, left, and Salinas both offered a positive assessment of the first 100 days. Slim, left, and Salinas both offered a positive assessment of the first 100 days.

Positive reaction: private sector greets López Obrador’s report with optimism

'I wouldn’t worry about anything,' says businessman Carlos Slim. 'We're doing very well'

The private sector expressed confidence in the federal government yesterday after President López Obrador outlined the achievements of his first 100 days in office in a self-congratulatory report.

“It was a very good report. We’re very surprised about everything that has been achieved in 100 days, it’s incredible,” said Ricardo Salinas Pliego, founder and chairman of the conglomerate Grupo Salinas.

Salinas described López Obrador as a “natural-born leader” and said the outlook for this year is positive.

Carlos Salazar Lomelín, the new president of the influential Business Coordinating Council (CCE), said that despite signs and warnings of a slowing economy, there is confidence within the private sector that the government will stimulate growth through initiatives outlined by López Obrador yesterday, such as actions against corruption and the construction of infrastructure projects.

“There is faith that with these actions, the [growth] numbers can recover and we can have a much better performance, even starting from this year,” he said.

Salazar qualified his statement, however, by saying that “it is too early to judge” the performance of the government in a comprehensive way and to predict how successful its policy initiatives will be.

“We have to have a little bit of patience, see what happens . . . [There are] huge expectations, which is reflected in the country’s [consumer] confidence index and I believe that is a good start. What interests the business community the most is that the climate of confidence continues in order to have greater . . . investment and for that to bring about . . . the growth we all want,” he said.

Antonio del Valle Perochena, president of the Mexican Business Council (CMN) – an elite group made up of 60 of the largest businesses in the country – described López Obrador’s report as conciliatory and positive for the country.

“He announced a lot of investment, which is very positive. We have to concentrate on the new infrastructure projects which I believe are very positive,” he said.

Francisco Cervantes Díaz, president of the Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Concamin), said that the private sector has confidence in López Obrador, while José Manuel López Campos of the Confederation of Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism (Concanaco) described the president’s report as “balanced” while acknowledging that 100 days is a very limited time within which to implement the changes the country needs.

Mexico’s richest man, Grupo Carso chairman Carlos Slim, also recognized that only so much can be achieved in such a short period but gave a positive overall assessment of the government’s performance to date.

The audience applauds yesterday during the president's 100-day report.
The audience applauds yesterday during the president’s 100-day report.

Interviewed at the National Palace after López Obrador delivered his report, Slim said that he wasn’t at all concerned about the direction the López Obrador administration is taking or the prevailing economic conditions in the country despite a warning from credit rating Standard & Poor’s that Mexico’s sovereign rating could be downgraded during the coming year.

“I wouldn’t worry about anything. Inflation is coming down, there is greater austerity, sobriety . . . The important thing is that there is a reasonable budget that is being met . . . There is budgetary discipline and the maintenance of macroeconomic balances is working, we’re doing very well, there is no concern,” he said.

The businessman contended that cuts to growth forecasts were not unusual at the start of a new government, and expressed confidence that reaching the 4% economic growth targeted by López Obrador is possible.

“Growth from 1933 to 1982 was 6.2% so of course we can get to 4%. All that’s needed is investment, economic activity, job creation and an improvement to people’s incomes,” Slim said.

He also expressed support for the government’s crackdown on corruption and fuel theft and its plans to combat insecurity, which includes the creation of a national guard.

Sinaloa Governor Quirino Ordaz Coppel said there are high expectations for the new security force, whose creation has been ratified by a majority of state legislatures.

“I believe that it [the national guard] is necessary. The objective of everyone is to reduce insecurity rates . . .” he said.

However, Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles expressed skepticism that the national guard will achieve the quick results the federal government is seeking, adding that state and municipal police officers should also be included in the security force in order to bolster its numbers.

He said that combatting insecurity and growing the economy are the two biggest challenges faced by the federal government but praised its efforts to date on reducing fuel theft, an achievement López Obrador highlighted in his report.

Adán Augusto López Hernández, governor of the president’s home state of Tabasco, gave a positive appraisal of López Obrador’s first 100 days in office, emphasizing that there are high expectations for the Maya Train and new oil refinery projects.

Source: Milenio (sp), Reforma (sp) 

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