The runner-up in the 2018 presidential election has slammed President López Obrador for the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and associated economic crisis as well as its broader management of the economy.
In a video posted to social media, former lawmaker and National Action Party (PAN) leader Ricardo Anaya charged that Mexican families are suffering an “unprecedented economic crisis” and that the government is deflecting blame for it by saying that the coronavirus came here from abroad.
“Two things must be clarified. Firstly, it’s true that the pandemic isn’t López Obrador’s fault but the terrible management of it is his fault,” Anaya said four days after Mexico became the fourth country in the world to record 100,000 Covid-19 deaths.
“It’s a little bit like the captain of a ship that has to navigate in the middle of a storm. The storm is not his fault but the decisions he takes at the helm are his responsibility,” he said.
“Secondly, the economic problem started well before the pandemic. In other words, when this started the ship was already damaged because in the first year of López Obrador’s government we had our worst [economic] growth in a decade,” Anaya said.
The former candidate, who finished a distant second to López Obrador in the 2018 election and is now positioning himself as a leading voice of the conservative PAN, claimed that the president doesn’t understand that economic growth is needed in order for people’s living standards to improve.
“Although the president doesn’t understand it, the reality is that there is not a single country in the world where … people’s wellbeing has improved without economic growth,” Anaya said.
“… If the course is not corrected, this will be the first time in history in which the Mexican economy will be smaller at the end of the [government’s] six-year term than when the six-year term started.”
The former PAN leader said that major factors in the lack of economic growth even before the pandemic are that the government is not using public money wisely or creating investor confidence.
“Our government invests poorly, in things that make no sense like the absurd Dos Bocas refinery that will always lose money,” Anaya said.
“There is something that is key for there to be investment, something that takes years to get and which can be lost in an instant: confidence,” he added.
“Perhaps the biggest mistake of all the mistakes of this government in economic matters is the fact that both Mexican and foreign investors have lost confidence [in Mexico].”
Anaya charged that investors have lost confidence because “bad decisions were taken,” citing the cancelation of the former government’s Mexico City airport project and arbitrary changes to investment rules in areas such as renewable energy.
He criticized the government’s cancellation of oil block auctions and the “illegal consultations” it has held prior to suspending projects such as the airport and a brewery that was under construction by a United States company in the country’s north.
“With López Obrador in government investment is at its lowest level in more than 20 years,” Anaya said, citing data from the national statistics agency Inegi.
“This is very serious because the investment of the government certainly matters but that of companies matters a lot more,” he said.
“This is what López Obrador never understood: in Mexico for every peso that the government invests, private companies invest six. That’s why it’s so important for the government to create an environment of confidence, to invite private investment, because if there is no investment, there won’t be growth, employment and wellbeing.”
Anaya, who announced his return to public life in September, also said that it is “unforgivable” that “the government left people and businesses to their own fate” amid the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.
“Among the 20 largest countries of the world, Mexico helped businesses and companies affected by the pandemic the least. More than half a million [businesses] have gone bankrupt, a lot of people were left without work,” he said.
“The question is what can we do to grow [the economy] again. The immediate key is to control the pandemic,” Anaya said before citing 10 areas where changes are needed.
He said the government needs to ensure the rule of law and combat corruption, improve public security (Mexico is on track to record its most violent year on record), build infrastructure that makes the country more competitive, increase investment in scientific research, education and public health and improve tax collection and the way public money is spent.
Anaya also said the government needs to provide certainty to investors, promote clean energy, reduce inequality, ensure economic stability, promote regional development and implement policies to boost productivity.
“We’re a country of very hard working people,” he said.
“The only thing that Mexicans need to prosper is an environment that encourages investment – clear rules, access to quality education. In Mexico we can achieve it but we need a government that allows us to work and helps us to prosper instead of dedicating itself to getting in the way.”
Mexico News Daily