Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Todays Mexico City Headlines: Half a trillion here, half a trillion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Excelsior leads with one of those numberfests that’s supposed to make us think the nation is running out of cash. “Pensions now costing half a trillion” reads the headline, and yes, that’s a lot of pesos. It should be. It covers the pension obligations to all public workers, from every state and municipality in the nation, the federal government, the entire workforce of the public social security system (IMSS) and the state workers social security system (ISSSTE), all of the parastatal oil company (Pemex), and every other public employee.
    The writer has a lot of fun with the figures, pointing out, for example, that the pension allotment for IMSS alone is more than the entire combined budgets of eight selected states. All it comes down to, though, is that Mexico is a high-population nation that takes care of its retirees. Is half a trillion too high? Tell us why. Are some getting more than they’re supposed to? Is there fraud? Mismanagement? Then you got yourself a front-page lead story.

El Universal gives us a numbers story with smaller figures but bigger implications. Profeco, the federal consumer protection agency, has found that seven out of ten gas stations are showing anomalies in their handling of their product, including shorting consumers. The last Profeco survey, completed in 2010, found just three out of 10 with suspicious practices. Either more gas dispensers are cheating their customers, or the detection system has improved considerably.
    Either way, don't count on anything coming out of the finding. The non-conforming stations are subject to sanctions, but fines are seldom imposed and almost never paid even if they are levied. “Flagrant deception by a service provider remains unpunished by any kind of government sanction," El Universal editorializes.

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