By KELIN DILLON
In a collaborative move between Mexico’s federal government and its private sector, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced a new price control initiative – the Package Against Inflation and Famine (PACIC) – to the public during his daily morning press conference on Wednesday, April 4. Th package establishes cost protection for 24 “basic basket” supermarket items, as established by the Federal Consumer Protection Office (Profeco), at a predetermined universal price throughout the next six months as inflation continues to spike across the globe.
While only 24 of the Profeco’s 40 “basic basket” items will be covered, this means that common products like canola oil, grain rice, onions, eggs, pasta, corn tortillas, white bread and soap, just to name a few, will maintain their price nationwide for the next six months no matter the economic effects of ongoing geopolitical events.
Considering that the “basic basket” has gone up in price by 46 percent over recent months due to inflation, AMLO’s new initiative could help Mexico’s impoverished population to stay properly fed in the months ahead, though some experts have noted that the PACIC only offers cost coverage to less-nutritious options, like white bread over wheat, and black beans over pinto.
Speaking from the National Palace, López Obrador said the new PACIC price measures are not simply about controlling the cost of goods, but about the government working closely in agreement with producers, distributors and self-service stores – like retailing behemoth Walmart Mexico and international Mexico-based bread manufacturer Grupo Bimbo – to maintain fair product pricing for those who live in Mexico.
“The decision was made to act by calling on producers, distributors and merchants to make this happen jointly, without coercive measures,” said AMLO at the time. “It is not about price control; it is an agreement and an alliance to ensure that the basic supermarket basket has a fair price.”
According to Secretary of the Treasury and Public Credit Rogelio Ramírez de la O, the Mexican government intends to extend the PACIC initiative into “corn, beans, rice and fertilizers” with government programs and subsidies to increase grain production, stabilize fuel prices, deliver fertilizers and remove ammonium sulfate quotas, as well as to stabilize gasoline and diesel prices throughout the nation as funded by the surplus of profit generated by Mexican crude oil exports.
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim also elected to participate in the preventative pricing measures, agreeing to prevent any changes in the cost of his nationally dominant telephone and internet services for the rest of the year, said López Obrador.
“If we act in these three sectors, we would be influencing almost a third of the national consumer price index,” AMLO went on to say, noting that the PACIC could be renewed and extended beyond its established six-month period “if necessary.”
“We are considering it for six months because we do not know how long the international price pressure is going to last, but we are giving ourselves all the margin to maintain working contact with the companies and deal with cases of shortages,” concluded López Obrador.