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Government denounces predecessor’s purchase of fertilizer plant
The federal government has filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office (FGR) against its predecessor’s purchase of a disused fertilizer plant in Veracruz, President López Obrador said today.
The president said that the previous federal government paid US $500 million for the Coatzacoalcos plant when its value is estimated to be just one-tenth that amount.
López Obrador added that his government won’t take possession of the plant until the FGR has conducted an investigation. After the probe, public opinion will be sought to determine whether the plant will be rehabilitated or sold, the president said.
“What are we going to do with the plant? . . . There are those who tell me, people who know about these things, that even if you keep putting money into it, it’s not going to work . . . Others tell me that we have to finish it because we can use it to produce fertilizers and because we’re buying the fertilizer we use,” López Obrador said.
Former President Peña Nieto declared in 2014 that his government’s fertilizer strategy would produce enough to replace 70% of what Mexico imports. But Pemex Fertilizers, a subsidiary of the state company that operated the plant, reported only losses and national fertilizer production actually declined.
The Federal Auditor’s Office revealed that the government — through Pemex — had paid $93 million too much, and the facility was little more than scrap metal.
López Obrador claimed that the purchase of the plant is another example of the corruption of past governments. The president also took aim at the government of Felipe Calderón, who narrowly beat López Obrador in the 2006 presidential election.
During the National Action Party (PAN) administration, López Obrador said, the National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur) purchased a ranch in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, from a former state governor for US $120 million. However, nothing was ever done with the land.
“. . . It turns out that it’s practically abandoned . . . It doesn’t have much viability for tourism development but they didn’t care about that, what they cared about was buying the land because if [their aim] was to boost tourism, they would have developed the Mazatlán airport and Nuevo Mazatlán, which is what we’re thinking could be done if we manage to recover resources from this abandoned plot of land they bought,” he said.
Accusing past governments of corruption has become a popular pastime for the president, especially at his daily morning press conferences.
Last month, López Obrador delivered a scathing attack on five former presidents, accusing them of “pillage” during the “neoliberal period” of the past 30 years.