Government Report Surprises with a New Airport
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
The idea of not imposing more taxes during his administration and the construction of a new international airport were the two highlighted points of Enrique Peña Nieto’s second government report.
In this report given before governors, legislators, entrepreneurs, and members of civil organizations, President Enrique Peña Nieto remarked that his biggest achievement has been passing 11 reforms. He highlighted telecommunications, which impels total access to the Internet across the country and no charges for long distance calls from cell phone numbers after January 1, 2015. That reform also opened the door for two new national TV stations, now up for bid. The bid is closed to the monopolies, Televisa and TV Azteca.
The controversial new reform for imposing taxes on payments of private tuition as well as for the purchase of homes also came into force this year, but they were not authorized by the Legislative Chamber. The law imposed taxes on pet food, sweet beverages, and junk food, among many other products. Nevertheless, President Peña Nieto assured that in the next four years of his administration, there will be no new taxes.
Peña Nieto remarked that currently, 6.5 million more people have been added to the public health programs. He also advised that the Oportunidades (Opportunities) program, which financially supports families in “extreme poverty,” will change its name to Prospera (Prosper) and will feature 15 productive projects that will help those in the program to work and obtain their own incomes.
Peña Nieto then announced an investment to expand two routes of the subway system in the metropolitan area as well as a new international airport. The day after the government report, he presented the project for the construction of the new airport. He said that the current Mexico City International Airport (AICM or MEX) has two landing and taking-off strips but does not have enough room for simultaneous landing and takeoff. “This is not acceptable at the airport of one of the most important metropolises in the world,” he noted. This is the reason a new airport will be constructed on 4,430 hectares of federal land. Currently the AICM transports more than 30 million people per year. The new airport, however, will move more than 50 million people in its first stage with three runways. At the end of its construction, the airport will have six runways and a capacity for transporting more than 120 million people yearly.
Of the eight contract proposals for the airport, the winner was that of Fernando Romero and Norman Foster (designers of the Hong Kong and Beijing airports). The construction will include elements from the national emblem—the eagle, the cactus, and the snake. More than 120 billion pesos, from both the public and private sectors, will be invested in the infrastructure that could be ready in 2020. Once the airport is fully constructed, the current AICM will be turned into a metropolitan park, which will feature green areas and cultural and convention centers as well as residential zones.