Discussion of the 2017 federal government budget starts Thursday with the appearance of Treasury and Public Finance (SHCP) Secretary José Antonio Meade Kuribreña’s appearance in Congress to explain why President Enrique Peña Nieto has slashed 239 billion pesos from the original proposal.
Needless to say that screams of protest were heard last Saturday as Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera alleged dirty politics and damages against his mandate as the SHCP totally slashed the so-called Capital City Fund the city gets for hosting the entire federal government. This fund has existed forever and it is used to make the city more bearable for the thousands of Mexicans who on a daily basis visit it to carry on with federal government related business.
Also, SHCP cut 16 billion from the 18 allotted to the Metropolitan Fund used to buffer problems with the three states that border with it and where the bulk of the population in the metropolitan area lives at.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg for Meade Kuribreña, who in his usual nonchalant style claims that the budget suffices to make do.
“Everyone must feel at ease,” he said in an interview Wednesday, because the federal government is doing “its share” of sacrificing to bring the soaring federal debt it acquired during the first two years of the six-year presidential mandate, and which now threatens to bring the nation on its knees.
The one key issue that Meade must explain is quoting the value of the dollar at 18.20 pesos the budget places for the coming year, as well as the $42 dollars per barrel in oil income when the price of the Mexican crude is currently at around $37 dollars.
No matter how much Meade turns on the charm, it’s going to take more than just smiles and the eternal “nothing happens with things as they are” to convince the opposition political parties to the President’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has the ability “to preserve the economic capability to grow, create jobs, to maintain prices stability, which are the variables upon which Mexicans feel the pinch on a daily basis.”
Yet the way things are negotiated in Congress makes consensus come at a high price and there is no doubt at this moment that for the budget to be approved, PRI congressmen who do not have a majority will have to appeal to their cronies of the Green Party to be able to get the bulk of the proposals through.
One thing in favor of Meade Kuribreña is that he did not put together this particular 2017 budget personally, as it was the work of his predecessor Luis Videgaray, a man who was cleared out of sight by the EPN administration after he masterminded the brilliant idea of the nefarious visit of Donald Trump to Mexico last Aug. 31.
People who were in New York during EPN’s visit Monday and Tuesday claim that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did their best to stay as far away as they could from him.
Another part of the budget that is seen as devastating is the slashing of 77 billion of the infrastructure budget. In fact, Communications Secretary Gerardo Ruiz had to claim Wednesday at the Senate that the construction of the new Mexico City airport was assured due to private funding, clearly a cover up for the President’s most ambitious construction work, which now is threatened at least with getting delayed.
“There’s never been budgetary slashing as we’re witnessing now,” said Deputy Baltazar Hinojosa, president of the Infrastructure Committee at the Chamber of Deputies. Surely Meade Kuribreña will continue trying to sweet talk the deputies into voting for the 2017 Budget as presented to them by the President through the SHCP, “who seeks to be solidary and responsible.” But at least opposition parties, particularly the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) as well as the National Action Party (PAN) are not buying the “sacrifices” imposed upon the Mexican people just to make the EPN Administration look good, at least for the next year.
The only thing real is that Thursday Meade Kuribreña is going to need extra handkerchiefs to wipe off the sweat off his forehead when giving half-truth answers to the deputies and hopefully making his boss look good.