Political strife pushes back approval for Mexican energy laws
By Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY, June 19 (Reuters) - Political wrangling in Mexico means Congress is unlikely to approve before July legislation to complete an energy overhaul at the center of President Enrique Pena Nieto's economic agenda, lawmakers said on Thursday.
The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had hoped to pass in June the so-called secondary laws for a reform that will offer oil production and exploration rights to private companies, ending a state monopoly that dates back to 1938.
Pena Nieto hopes the reform will revive Latin America's no. 2 economy, which has underperformed regional peers for years.
The PRI lacks a majority in Congress and has relied chiefly on support from the center-right opposition National Action Party (PAN) to muster votes for its energy reform.
Wary of public opposition to the reform, however, Pena Nieto has also tried to keep the main center-left opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) at the negotiating table, which has become an awkward balancing act for the government.
The energy laws have been a bargaining chip for the opposition, and both PRD and PAN lawmakers have staged walkouts from talks over the reform in the last few days to apply pressure on other ongoing political discussions in Congress.
As a result, both PRI and PAN lawmakers say approving the secondary laws, which set out details of how the new energy regime will work, no longer looks feasible in June.
"With the legislative set-up as it stands, we hope the energy reform will be finalized in the first few days of July. That's the impression we all have," said Ernesto Gandara, a PRI senator on the energy committee in the upper house of Congress. Continuación...