Mexico ruling party sidelines central bank bill that sparked criticism
By Diego Oré
MEXICO CITY, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Mexico's ruling party has sidelined a bill that would require the central bank to buy up cash that commercial lenders cannot offload, lawmakers said on Friday, raising the prospect the contentious legislation could be put on ice.
The bill approved by the Senate last year met with strong resistance from the central bank, which warned the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) that it could force the Bank of Mexico to absorb the proceeds of organized crime.
Amid the criticism, MORENA agreed to rework in the lower house of Congress the bill which aims to make it easier for people with limited access to banking services to offload cash.
After talks with officials who argue the problem can be addressed without changing central bank rules, congressional leaders are taking up other legislation first - having initially aimed to reach consensus on the reworked bill in January.
Ignacio Mier, MORENA's lower house leader, said the priorities for the coming months are a bill that tightens rules on subcontracting labor, and another to change the electricity industry for the benefit of the national power utility.
"As (the central bank bill) is not a preferential initiative, we can debate it another month," he told Reuters.
Three other MORENA lawmakers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the bill would not advance in its current form. It could be changed, or a new initiative would be submitted that did not involve changing the central bank law, they said.
"The initiative, in terms of how it was approved without question in the Senate, is almost dead," said Antonio Ortega, a lower house congressman from the opposition center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
Mier said recent public consultations on the bill would be taken into account and noted there was still time for the measure to proceed when asked if it was now on ice.
(Reporting by Diego Ore in Mexico City
Writing by Cassandra Garrison
Editing by Matthew Lewis)
((Cassandra.Garrison@thomsonreuters.com; +54 11 5830 7443;))