Mexican reform drive bogged down by opposition strife
By Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY, April 28 (Reuters) - In his first year in power, Enrique Pena Nieto raced to push through Congress the most ambitious reforms Mexico has seen in a generation, raising hopes of a new dawn for Latin America's second largest economy.
But this year the Mexican president's sprint has slowed to a walk with Congress mired in opposition disputes that are holding up the legislation that is supposed to end years of anemic growth.
Final approval for bills implementing Pena Nieto's reforms to foment competition in energy, telecoms and broadcasting is now likely to be delayed for weeks or even months, suggesting investment will be pushed back accordingly.
That was not part of the president's original script.
Last year, investors and foreign leaders heaped praise on Pena Nieto after he forged a pact with the opposition to cooperate on reforms, giving him huge majorities to pass bills in a divided Congress.
The pact yielded agreements to end a 75-year-old oil and gas monopoly and overhaul a broken education system as well as measures to improve a weak tax take and create tougher regulations for dominant players like telecoms giant America Movil, the flagship of billionaire tycoon Carlos Slim.
In Mexico, Pena Nieto has received a more sober reception. The economy grew by just over one percent in 2013, and some initial euphoria about his management of Congress is giving way to frustration about the failure to pass bills this year.
"It's come to a standstill as far as I'm concerned. We haven't seen anything concrete yet," said Carl-Otto Rydner, director of the Swedish-Mexican chamber of commerce, whose members include the likes of mobile telecom equipment maker Ericsson and truck manufacturer Volvo. Continuación...