Expenditure Law: Lopez Obrador's party punishes autonomous bodies in the 2020 budget | International


The autonomous bodies are the big losers in next year's budget. The Mexican Congress has approved the Expenditures Law early this Friday, which provides for a cut of more than 4,000 million pesos (more than 200 million dollars) to the institutions with autonomy of the Executive. Morena, the ruling party, and their allies have justified that the scissors are due to the fight against corruption and waste, as well as an injection into social spending. The opposition has claimed that it is an attack against the counterweights of the Government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The National Electoral Institute (INE) will receive 1,071 million pesos (almost 54 million dollars) less than in 2019, the biggest reduction in its history. The Attorney General's Office, separated from the presidential power in December last year, will get 1,500 million less ($ 75 million). The Federal Judiciary Council, which monitors the Judiciary, saw a fall of 1,038 million ($ 52 million). The National Institute of Access to Information, the maximum responsible for transparency and accountability, will have 50 million (2.5 million dollars) less. The National Human Rights Commission, entrusted to an activist and former candidate of Morena two weeks ago, will suffer a reduction of 37 million (almost two million dollars less).

"Tighten your belt," said Lopez Obrador in his morning conference. "It was a government maintained and good for nothing," added the president after complaining about the salaries received by the INE counselors and defending his austerity policy. Morena presented on November 6 an initiative to shorten the mandate of the directors from nine to three years, which was criticized for submitting the Institute to the will of the most voted parties in the elections for the lower house, which are held just every three years. "The cut announced, coupled with some proposals for electoral reforms that have been raised in Congress, demonstrates an attempt to limit the electoral authority and does not outline good times for the recreation of democracy," the INE responded in a statement prior to budget approval. In the document, the INE regretted that Congress approved the reduction to its budget, but not to the money received by political parties. Lopez Obrador has replied that it was the opposition who refused to lower public funds to the parties.

"At the end of the day, what is at stake are the rights of citizens," says Pamela San Martin, INE counselor. San Martin criticizes that the deputies have not substantiated the reasons for the cut and advances that the Institute evaluates to present a constitutional controversy so that the Legislature explains the reasons for the 9% decrease to the INE budget. The minister affirms that there is an opening to be more austere and efficient, but that the reduction compromises the tasks of the Institute, especially in the face of the preparations for the legislative elections of 2021, the largest by the number of voters in the history of Mexico . "We cannot reverse the democratic advances of the last 40 years," warns San Martin.

"It is a clear reflection of the president's authoritarian vision, he does not like counterweights. Or he dismantles them with appointments by way of or compromising their operational capacity," said Marko Cortes, president of the conservative National Action Party (PAN). "The budget ceased to be a political booty," Mario Delgado, leader of the Morena parliamentary group, has revived after defending Lopez Obrador's social policies such as scholarships for 11 million young people and pensions for 8 million retirees. The Ministry of Welfare, the government arm to operate these programs, received an increase of 8,365 million pesos and was by far the most benefited portfolio.

The budget had to be approved in an alternate headquarters, after groups of farmers took the Chamber of Deputies and blocked the legislative sessions of the last two weeks. The opinion was endorsed after nine hours of discussion with 302 votes in favor of Morena, the Labor Party, Social Encounter and the Green Environmental Party. The Institutional Revolutionary Party, the Democratic Revolution Party and the Citizen Movement presented 65 votes against, while there was an abstention. The PAN, the largest opposition bloc with 78 deputies, did not go to the vote to protest the change of venue, except for the president of the lower house, Laura Rojas.

On the threshold of fulfilling his first year in power, the promise of regime change Lopez Obrador has faced several agencies that regulate and supervise the Government, to the point of qualifying them as ornate institutions: without relevance or moral authority to fulfill its functions The concern of different social and political organizations that do not agree with the president is that the institutional order of the country is dynamited, with the warning of an authoritarian turn among the most recalcitrant opponents. In the approval of the budget and after the clashes of an increasingly fragmented political scenario, the arbitrators have been the most affected.

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