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Austerity budget — even Carstens is trimming down

9 September 2009

Everyone in the Mexi-news blogsphere seems to be focusing on this morning are the plans to eliminate three cabinet departments (Tourism, Agrarian Reform and Public Function ), and taking on faith the Calderón administration’s statements that this is just a necessary budget cutting move.

In theory, these cabinet consolidations make sense.  The Secretariat of Public Function(more or less analogous to the United States’ Office of Management and Budget) was only a separate cabinet department to somewhat isolate it from direct control by the Presidency, though in practice, it just duplicated other auditing and budget control activities in Hacienda and within the Executive office.

The Secretariat of  Tourism’s functions will be carried out by the Secretariat of the Economy.  It probably does make sense to see tourism as just one economic interests within Mexico.  Likewise, Agrarian Reform (mostly moving into the Agriculture Secretariat, with some social programs moving to the Secretariats of Social Development and Labor) also makes sense.  I’m dubious, however, that the cost savings will be anywhere near what is envisioned without cuts in programs as well as higher level functionaries.

No one is going to fight too much to save these departments, nor are there likely to be huge objections to austerity measures announced by Secretary of Treasury Augustin Castens:  a five to ten percent salary cut for high level functionaries and diplomats; a freeze on new hires, new office space and even new office furniture for the next year.  Carstens also plans a consolidation within his own department, combining the two government gambling monopolies run through the Treasury (don’t think about it) — the National Lottery and the “Pronósticos Deportivos” (Sports book).

One possible measure, very likely to create some opposition is a higher tax on liquor and tobacco.  Maybe, they’ll even cut down on meals for Cabinet Secretaries… one in particular might promise  HUUUUGGGGGE savings…

carstins-dietI wonder if there’s a Carlos Slim-fast Diet Plan

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