Thursday, December 8

Mexico Congress Starts Debate on President’s Electricity Reform

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(Bloomberg) — Mexican lower house lawmakers on Sunday began debating a controversial proposal by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to restore the state’s monopoly over the electricity industry.

Dozens of lawmakers are expected to speak during what is likely to be a lengthy process. A same-day vote is planned for the bill, which comprises constitutional amendments giving state utility Comision Federal de Electricidad, or CFE, at least 54% of the market and capping private participation.

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AMLO, as the president is known, had sought to use the bill to

solidify his nationalistic vision for the energy sector and reverse an opening-up of the power industry to private investment that started over two decades ago.

The proposal is expected to fall short of the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution. Lopez Obrador’s ruling coalition lost some ground in the lower house of congress following last June’s midterm elections and opposition lawmakers have refused to back the bill.

Critics including industry representatives have said the legislation embraced fossil fuels and would cripple the country’s energy future by blocking private investment. Washington has also warned the bill would violate its free trade deal with Mexico and put more than $10 billion in US investments at risk.

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