Pena Nieto Returns Anti-Graft Bill to Congress for Revisions

  • Criticism of draft bill prompted action: president’s counsel
  • President calls for special session of Mexico’s congress

Responding to fierce criticism of a bill passed by his party, President Enrique Pena Nieto for the first time in office sent legislation back to Congress for changes to strengthen Mexico’s fight against corruption.

The articles he wants amended were passed by congress last week and would require all people that do business with the government to declare their assets to public auditors. Mexico’s leading business groups lambasted the measure in a rare public criticism of the government.

“The federal government has listened closely to voices that argue that this measure is excessive and would make the national anti-corruption system inoperable, because it would make it impossible to process millions upon millions of declarations,” Humberto Castillejos, the president’s legal counsel, said in a speech broadcast live from Mexico City. “It would also inhibit individuals from offering services or selling products to the government.”

Pena Nieto will request that congress hold a special session to debate changes to the bill, Castillejos said. The bill is part of a broader set of anti-corruption legislation that has fueled a dispute between the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, which approved the rules, and opposition lawmakers and local industry, which say the PRI has watered down efforts to hold officials accountable in Mexico.

While the call for an amendment should be praised, “we hope that they take into account the spirit of the law” regarding politicians’ declarations, Juan Pardinas, director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, told El Financiero Bloomberg TV.

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