As the Mayan Train looks to start operations in December 2023, the federal government is looking for additional resources to maintain the project operational, including the creation of a new trust with the potential to add over MX$12 billion (US$690.9 million) to President López Obrador’s main infrastructure project.
On Nov. 13, 2023, the Chambers of Senators and Deputies issued a decree introducing several amendments to the Federal Rights Law. One of the key changes involves the modification to Art. 18-A, Paragraph I, which will now include the establishment of a public trust dedicated to financing the construction of the Mayan Train project.
The decree specifies that funding for the project will come from the Non-Resident Fee (DNR). This fee, amounting to MX$687 in 2023, is levied on every foreign visitor who stays for more than seven days and enters the country under the status of 'visitor without authorization to engage in remunerated activities, as noted by the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB).
The resources will go to a special fund linked to the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), which holds control of the state-owned company Tren Maya, S.A. de C.V. The decree highlights this is in line with the Federal Law on Budget and Fiscal Responsibility. “This allocation is intended for the payment of operations, service provision, administration, exploitation, construction, planning, acquisition, projects or programs, leasing, complementary works, equipment, installation, study, project, and investment in infrastructure, among other activities related to the social purpose of the mentioned state-owned entity,” reads the decree published in the Federal Official Gazette (DOF), which will enter into effect in Jan. 1, 2024.
In 2022, the funds generated from the Non-Resident Fee (DNR) exceeded MX$12 billion. Initially, these resources served two purposes: over 20% was allocated to enhance migration services at the National Migration Institute (INM), while the remaining 80% funded the Mayan Train. With the recent modifications, the Mayan Train will now have full control of these resources, as reported by Forbes.
The Mayan Train has drawn considerable attention since the beginning of López Obrador’s administration. Major concerns revolve around its environmental impact, delivery timeline, resource allocation, and a perceived lack of transparency in its development. According to the Center for Economic and Budgetary Research (CIEP), the Mayan Train falls under a closed portfolio code, indicating that the project undergoes a cost-benefit analysis, but the details are not available for consultation. Consequently, CIEP classified it as a project with partial transparency.
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