Two months ago I commented in this space that AMLO’s interference in INEGI, when proposing someone from his cabinet to be part of his Governing Board, smelled of a search for control.
At this point you can not think otherwise. Little by little, the president has been taking power away from the autonomous organizations by reducing their budgets, which for this year represents 25%.
He brings a lawsuit married to the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), the Federal Commission of Economic Competition (COFECE) and the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT), among others. According to him, they have contributed to fomenting corruption and he wants to grant himself the powers of these bodies as if this would guarantee to prevent it.
In 2013 the Federal Telecommunications Law was reformed leaving behind COFETEL, created in 1998, dependent on the SCT, and which was not exactly the best example of honesty and transparency (remember that concessions and their renewals or extensions were granted discretionary ).
With the change, clearer rules and transparent processes were defined and the way was opened to the creation of the Federal Telecommunications Institute, the new responsible for monitoring compliance with the Law, with a giant structure, it is true, but also with clear objectives in terms of competition, regulation, statistical research, transparency and promotion of the rights of audiences, among others. This had never been seen in the history of telecommunications in our country.
AMLO assures that his disappearance will save a lot of money. In order not to vary, disappear before evaluating, cleaning (if necessary) and restructuring, the same happened with trusts.
It is true that the operating expense is monumental, the IFT’s salaries, especially that of commissioners, are very high, they even earn more than the president, which must be furious.
But it is one thing to promote budget adjustments and quite another to disappear agencies that we need, which give us invaluable and decisive information for decision-making.
The IFT case is paradigmatic: it has promoted investment in telecommunications like never before, generating thousands of jobs, but also spilling billions of pesos to the State; We must remember the public tender of 2017 in which the IFT raised about 7,800 million pesos, without taking into account the extensions of the concessions that they grant periodically and that represents a huge additional income.
Instead of seeing the multiple advantages of keeping this regulatory body (and also a money-making machine) in operation, the president prefers to eliminate it and although it will not be as simple as saying it in a morning – to achieve it it is necessary to reform the constitution – with the majority in Congress it would not be impossible either. There is, however, another obstacle: the autonomy of this body is a commitment contemplated by the USMCA.
According to what Álvaro de la Cueva pointed out in an interview with Maricarmen Cortés:
“The second point, and perhaps it could be more delicate in constitutional terms, has to do with the fact that autonomy, the independence of the telecommunications regulator, was agreed by the Mexican State in the T-MEC with the United States and Canada.
In chapter 18, paragraph 18.17, particularly footnote number 14, says that it should not only be the independent regulator but for the Mexican case, it indicates with all its letters that independence is understood as autonomy from the Executive Power.
This would not appear to be consistent with any attempt to return the powers to the Ministry of Communications. ”
And he added: “For every peso that the IFT has cost the Mexican State, in those seven years, just over 10 billion pesos, we have generated those almost 500 billion savings for Mexicans, this is then a rate 50 to one profitability of the Institute. Almost nobody, rather, I doubt that any other area of the government of the economy, the public authority, can show similar results ” .
So this is not exactly a “savings” issue.
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