Telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim said on Wednesday that he would invest up to 120 billion pesos (US $6.3 billion) in infrastructure projects during the six-year term of the federal government.
The billionaire businessman, who is Mexico’s richest man, told a press conference that he is particularly interested in investing in the southeast of Mexico, stating that economic development there is “urgent” and “essential.”
Slim said that he was “100% behind” the government’s plans to boost development in the region as well its wider agenda.
He said that his companies would bid for contracts for the Maya Train project, which will link cities in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Campeche.
“There will [other] infrastructure projects,” Slim said. “I think it will depend on what [contracts] we win but obviously [investment] could be more than 100 billion pesos.”
The businessman also said that his companies Telcel and Telmex will invest 40 billion pesos (US $2.1 billion) annually in the coming years of the López Obrador presidency.
Investment in telecommunications will extend to Guatemala and El Salvador, Slim said, adding that he has already spoken with the governments of both countries.
He also said that Carso Energy will invest 20 billion pesos (US $1 billion) annually and that another 12 to 14 billion pesos per year will go to real estate projects.
Turning to the outlook for the Mexican economy, Slim said that it was possible that there will be no growth at all in 2019.
“That’s the bad news but what’s the good news? The good news is that inflation is going to fall by half,” he said.
Inflation was 4.8% last year and this year it will drop below 3%, Slim predicted.
He said the government could take credit for lower inflation, praising its policy to eliminate excessive operating costs and implement other austerity measures.
Slim also praised the government for increasing the minimum salary and offered support for its fiscal reform that seeks to crack down on companies that sell fake invoices and receipts and those that purchase and use them to avoid paying tax.
“The [fake] invoices thing is a scandal,” he said, adding that companies have made use of them as though it was “the national sport.”
Slim downplayed the possibility of a downgrade to Mexico’s sovereign credit rating, highlighting the stable exchange rate and healthy public finances.
While praising the government’s policies, the businessman stopped short of offering a full-throated endorsement of the president.
Asked to evaluate López Obrador’s performance as he approaches the completion of his first year in office, Slim replied “I’m not an evaluator of presidents.”