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Construction proceeds at new airport. Construction proceeds at new airport.

‘The people know everything,’ AMLO says in response to criticism

Investment bank says public consultations are creating uncertainty

The president-elect has hit back at investment bank JP Morgan’s assessment that consulting the public on large infrastructure decisions creates uncertainty, declaring that “the people know everything.”

Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters in Mexico City this morning that “I respect their point of view, it’s just that we think and maintain that in a democracy it’s the people who are in charge, it’s the people who decide and Mexicans want to be consulted, they want to be asked and the best way to avoid mistakes is to ask.”

The Morena party leader has said that he intends to hold a public consultation late next month to decide the fate of the new Mexico City International Airport project.

However, in the Mexico 101 Study in its 2018 Country Handbook, JP Morgan said that López Obrador’s “transition team is adding uncertainty about what could happen in the next six years with the frequent use of consultations and/or referendums to decide [the future of] high-impact projects.”

The investment bank warned that the Morena-led coalition could adopt a “radical left” position in Congress and use its legislative majority to legalize public consultation mechanisms such as referendums, which are not formally described in Mexico’s constitution.

“López Obrador said that the result of the consultation would be binding although the constitution could not validate the result in its current framework,” JP Morgan said.

It also said that “according to a recent survey, more than 50% favor the current [airport] project while less than 30% think that the project should be modified.”

López Obrador has said that the Santa Lucía Air Base could be adapted for commercial use to relieve pressure at the current airport although there are doubts about the feasibility of the two facilities operating simultaneously.

JP Morgan also warned that reviewing oil contracts “could slow down the implementation of the until now successful energy reform.”

The incoming government has said that it intends to look at contracts signed by private and foreign companies but finance secretary nominee Carlos Urzúa said shortly after López Obrador’s election win that if no irregularities are detected they will be honored.

JP Morgan was also critical of the incoming administration’s plans to scrap the educational reform and the austerity measures it has outlined.

“It’s not clear if the savings will be sufficient to finance the new projects given the specifications and complexities of the [austerity] plan, that won’t be implemented in a realistic way in the first year,” the bank said.

At Mexico City Airport to catch a flight to Tijuana less than 10 hours after returning from Huatulco, the president-elect appeared unfazed by JP Morgan’s views.

Pushed by a reporter about whether the public really had the technical knowledge to make an informed decision about the new airport project, López Obrador said “the people know everything, the people are wise, those who don’t know are the corrupt.”

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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