By Sharay Angulo
MEXICO CITY, Aug 17 : – Mexico’s incoming government on Friday postponed a decision on whether to complete a new Mexico City airport, saying the public should have the final word on the fate of the $13 billion-dollar hub, which the next president had initially opposed.
President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the project was tainted by corruption prior to his July 1 landslide election victory, and had pressed for an existing military base north of the capital to be used instead as the new airport.
However, a significant amount of work has been completed on the ambitious project, making a decision to scrap the airport potentially costly for Lopez Obrador, who has pledged to crack down on public waste and look after Mexico’s finances.
Lopez Obrador told a news conference the option of turning completion of the new hub into a private concession was still open so as to reduce risk to the taxpayer, as he and his designated transport minister, Javier Jimenez Espriu, outlined their plans.
Jimenez said that following discussions with experts and analysis of the two options – finishing the current project or converting the military base – a national consultation would be held in the final week of October to decide on the way forward.
“The result will be binding, and on the basis of this, the definitive decision will be made,” Jimenez said.
Lopez Obrador’s decision on the airport has become a litmus test of his economic pragmatism and relations with business leaders, who have strongly backed the existing project.
Contracts worth billions of dollars have been awarded for the airport, which aims to ease the strained capacity of the capital’s present hub and improve connectivity.
The project is the biggest public works plan under way in Mexico. Its planned terminal was designed by British architect Norman Foster and the son-in-law of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, whose family is also co-building and co-financing the hub.