(Financial Times, Jude Webber, 14.Nov.2018) — A deputy governor of the Bank of Mexico and head of the country’s oil regulator have both stepped down early from their posts, a fortnight before Andrés Mañuel López Obrador is sworn in as president.
Roberto del Cueto Legaspi, the oldest member of Banxico’s five-strong board, will step down from November 30 for health reasons, the central bank said. His term had run until December 2022.
He will still be in his post for Thursday’s rate decision — when a 25 basis points rise to 8 per cent is widely expected — and for the next quarterly inflation report on November 25.
Mr López Obrador, a leftist nationalist who takes office on December 1, has already named Jonathan Heath, an independent economist, to replace Manuel Ramos Francia, another board member, whose term ends on December 31.
It was not immediately clear who would be named to replace Mr del Cueto Legaspi but the bank’s statutes allow it to function with four board members.
Also tendering his resignation was Juan Carlos Zepeda, president of the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH).
He said in a statement he was leaving his post as of December. His departure — after two terms — had been widely expected although his term had been due to end in May.
The incoming government has been critical of Mexico’s energy reform, which ended the eight decades-old monopoly of state oil company Pemex.
Mr Zepeda, widely praised for running a series of transparent oil auctions, said he left the sector with 74 oil companies from 20 countries operating, including 36 new Mexican firms, and said 23 wells were due to be drilled in 2019, a 65 per cent increase in offshore oil exploration compared with the 2010-13 period, before the oil price crash.
Mr Zepeda said he would join a fund focused on infrastructure and energy next year. He could not immediately be reached for comment on reports that his departure came after pressure from incoming Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle, but he said in the statement he would remain an external adviser to the ministry, at Ms Nahle’s request.
Already weak in the wake of Mr López Obrador’s decision to scrap a partially built new airport and confusion over a bill tabled by his Morena party to axe “usurious” bank fees, the peso currency fell sharply on the surprise Banxico resignation, and growing expectations that the USMCA free-trade deal may not have an easy ride in the new US Congress.