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AMLO looks to speed up public works

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is taking flak for issuing a decree that prioritizes public works as a matter of national security and grants ministries the power to ignore regulators.

The president says the decree has the aim of expediting procedures and  speeding up urgently needed works, which are frequently delayed by injunctions and other legal obstacles. 

Critics say the measure is authoritarian and simply a means for the federal government to circumvent the law and avoid transparency and accountability.

The decree allows ministries to emit authorizations and permits within five days for work on telecommunications, tourism, railways, ports, airports and other infrastructure projects, to ensure what it calls their “timely execution, expected social benefit and exercise of authorized budgets.”

AMLO dismissed concerns that projects would receive minimal evaluation, leading to poorly carried out works. Federal agencies, he stressed, are held accountable and “governed by principles of environmental protection, justice and  honesty.” Rather than being “a decree,” the initiative is “an agreement” between ministries to expedite infrastructure projects, he said.  

AMLO gave an example of  how under the new measure the Environment Ministry can help its Communications and Transportation counterpart move ahead quickly on stretches of the Mayan Train line under construction in the south of Mexico, as well as projects such as the Felipe Angeles Airport in Mexico City (see story right).

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