MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Some mining companies in Mexico are giving back operating permits issued under previous administrations because they want to avoid paying taxes, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday.
Previous administrations distributed mining permits “like confetti,” as well as licenses for fuel imports, due to “speculation,” he told reporters at a regular news conference.
“Now they are returning the concessions because they do not want to pay the taxes,” Lopez Obrador said. “We hope that the territory that was handed over is recovered,” he added.
Lopez Obrador did not name any specific companies.
The leftist energy nationalist said the area dedicated to mining concessions was about 120 million hectares.
The president also said that a new hydrocarbons law he sent to Congress on Friday has a similar aim to recoup unused concessions.
That draft legislation could enable the government to suspend permits in the oil industry, although Lopez Obrador reiterated that he would respect existing contracts.
Lopez Obrador said some firms got as many as 10 permits to import gas during what he calls the “neoliberal era” before his government, but those companies never built facilities, ports or pipelines to import the gas.
He has attacked his predecessor, former President Enrique Pena Nieto, for opening the energy market as an illustration of chronic political corruption.
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Aurora Ellis)