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Mexico en la Lucha I - Mexico in Struggle I (1. en español, 2. in English)

by George Salzman Monday, Oct. 30, 2000 at 1:06 AM
george.salzman@umb.edu (from U.S. 011-52)-9-514-8242 Oaxaca, Oax., México

(For English translation scroll down through the Spanish to 2) Editorial de La Jornada, México, D.F. viernes 27 de octubre de 2000, "FOX, ANTE LA REALIDAD PRESUPUESTAL"

1. (Spanish original. For English translation scroll down through the Spanish to 2) En d s recientes, el presidente electo Vicente Fox y su equipo de trabajo han empezado a cobrar conciencia de las severas limitaciones en las que habrán de ejercer el poder a partir del primero de diciembre. El miércoles, Fox reconoció que, ante la escasez de recursos, sólo 20 o 30 de los 120 proyectos gubernamentales originalmente concebidos podrán ser aplicados el próximo año. A mayor abundamiento, ayer el próximo titular del Ejecutivo federal dijo que los recursos fiscales y petroleros son insuficientes para que el gobierno cumpla sus obligaciones constitucionales, y pidió comprensión y apoyo para su propuesta de reforma fiscal.

Ciertamente, el equipo foxista heredará de la administración de Ernesto Zedillo una camisa de fuerza presupuestal, con el 80 por ciento de los recursos públicos amarrados al servicio de la deuda externa e interna y a los "rescates" bancario y carretero, entre otros. Paradójicamente, los legisladores panistas aprobaron, en su momento, la conversión de deuda privada en pública, legalizaron el enorme quebranto a las arcas públicas que significó el Fobaproa y contribuyeron, con ello, al enorme descalabro al que tendrá que enfrentarse Fox, quien desde antes de tomar posesión del cargo ha empezado a gastar su capital político inicial en la promoción de medidas tan impopulares como la imposición del IVA a productos de consumo básico, como alimentos y medicinas.

No es fácil, sin embargo, conciliar esta propuesta con la promesa de que los beneficiarios de la reforma fiscal habrán de ser "los más pobres, los excluidos y los marginados": al margen de consecuencias en la popularidad, si hubiera congruencia en el espíritu de eliminar las exenciones que benefician a las familias más ricas del país, habría que empezar por los impuestos al ingreso y no por los gravámenes al consumo. Un ejemplo significativo de exenciones indebidas y cuantiosas es el de los grandes conglomerados televisivos y radiofónicos, que gozan de un régimen de tasa cero en materia de impuesto sobre la renta.

En suma, la próxima administración tendrá que salir del terreno de la ambigüedad y definirse: o continúa las políticas fiscales y presupuestales actuales, privatizadoras, concentradoras de la riqueza y generadoras de miseria, o bien se compromete a recaudar y ejercer los recursos públicos con un sentido social.

2. English version

Summary: This editorial, addressed to the problems of the Mexican president-elect, was published by La Jornada, a national daily newspaper of unusually high quality, in Mexico City on Friday, October 27, 2000. It is titled, "FOX, IN THE FACE OF BUDGETARY REALITY." The translation is by George Salzman.

In recent days president-elect Vincente Fox and his work team have begun to gain awareness of the severe limitations in which they will have to exercise power beginning the first of December. Tuesday, Fox acknowledged that, in the face of the lack of resources, only 20 or 30 of the 120 government projects originally conceived could be put into effect next year. Furthermore, yesterday the next head of the federal executive said that fiscal and petroleum resources are insufficient for the government to meet its constitutional obligations, and he asked for understanding and help for his proposal for fiscal reform.

Certainly, the Fox team will inherit from the administration of Ernesto Zedillo a budgetary straightjacket, with 80 percent of public resources tied up to service the external and internal debt and to bank and highway "rescues", among others. Paradoxically, the PAN legislators approved, during their tenure, conversion of private into public debt. They legalized the enormous loss to the treasury that the Fobaproa signified, and they thereby contributed to the enormous setback that Fox has to face, who since before taking possession of his responsibility has begun to spend his initial political capital on the advocacy of such unpopular means as the imposition of the IVA ( tax) on basic consumer products such as foods and medicines.

It's not easy however, to reconcile this proposal with the promise that the beneficiaries of fiscal reform will have to be "the poorest, the excluded and the marginalized": beyond the consequences for his popularity, if he had been consistent with the spirit of eliminating the exemptions that benefit the richest families, he would have to begin with taxes on investments and not on burdens to the consumer. A significant example of large illegal exemptions is that of the giant television and radio conglomerates, which benefit from a rule of zero valuation regarding tax on their income.

To sum up, the next administration will have to start from ambiguous ground and define itself: either it continues the current fiscal and budgetary policies, privatizations, concentration of wealth and generation of misery, or commits itself to recover and apply public resources with social sensitivity.

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