Tuesday, December 1

López Obrador’s Chief of Staff asks “not to open more fronts” with energy companies

The Chief of Staff of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Alfonso Romo.
The Chief of Staff of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Alfonso Romo.QUARTOSCURO

The head of the Presidential office, Alfonso Romo, tried this Wednesday to calm the waters between the López Obrador government and the private energy sector. A week after Iberdrola announced that it was not going to invest more in Mexico and the president responded by accusing the Spanish company of having benefited from “juicy contracts” in previous six-year terms, Romo intervened to put perspective and bring positions closer. “It is not advisable to open more battle fronts, with the virus and economic paralysis it is more than enough,” he said at the opening of the Annual Meeting of Industrialists.

Romo has not departed from the line set by the Executive and has repeated that López Obrador’s objectives continue to be to strengthen the parastatals Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), not to raise consumer prices and strengthen the energy sovereignty of the country. However, he has also taken a step towards reconciliation: “You are very clear about how to strengthen this policy with complementary and necessary investments,” he told the industrialists. “The objectives coincide, but something is happening that we are not communicating well or we are not listening well. We cannot allow this. What is at stake is a lot, the well-being of many and a great future ”, he acknowledged.

An example of this unit is the joint document in which the team of the Presidency’s office, led by Romo, and the businessmen are working to strengthen energy policy, have “a more competitive productive sector, a more attractive country [para las inversiones] and consumers with energy prices within the reach of any pocket ”.

Last Wednesday, the president of Iberdrola, the largest private energy producer in Mexico, announced that they were ruling out new investments in the country due to government obstacles. “If they say not to invest in strategic companies, we will not do it,” said Ignacio Sánchez Galán. With this phrase, most of the 5,000 million dollars of investment sponsored by the multinational also remained in the air. The next day the president’s response was clear: “We are not interested in private business, we are interested in public business.”

However, today Romo has given another version: “To put obstacles to investment is to betray the fight against poverty, and history will demand it from us if we do not do it correctly”, he pointed out. “The Government’s obligation is to establish the necessary conditions for innovators to grow alone, with legal and regulatory certainty, and physical security. With a fiscal policy that attracts investment, especially in times of uncertainty ”.

Romo’s statements are also distinguished from those made Tuesday by the president of the CFE, Manuel Bartlett. During his appearance in Congress to analyze the second government report, Bartlett accused Iberdrola of imposing “leonine contracts” and of owing the CFE 10,000 million pesos. “We want a private initiative that invests and not come to loot the country with all the advantages and privileges,” said the official after a long appearance, after adding that they are going to renegotiate the contracts with these private companies. Bartlett assured that the CFE is the most important asset in the country “despite the smear campaign.”

Meanwhile, this Wednesday, the general director of Pemex, Octavio Romero Oropeza, has reported that the parastatal has registered a net loss of 26,345 million dollars in the first nine months of 2020, 243.1% more than in the same 2019 period. Romero has attributed the results to the drop in global oil demand due to the Covid-19 crisis, which plummeted hydrocarbon prices.

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