Sunday, January 26, 2014

Political Promises in Honduras

They say you can tell when a lawyer is lying because his lips are moving.

Well, in Honduras, the same should be said of politicians.

Back on July 20, Congress passed a controversial law called the Ley de promoción del desarrollo y reconversion de deuda publica (Decreto 145-2013) by which Honduras seeks to monetize its income stream from its national resources.  We wrote about it, and the controversy surrounding the sudden introduction and passage of the law back on July 29, and you should reread it for details about the law.

The law was then sent to Porfirio Lobo Sosa for action on July 23.

Now in theory, Honduran law says Lobo Sosa had 10 days to either sign or veto the law.  He signs the law by writing an order that says "Por Tanto Ejecutese" or vetos it by writing "Vuelva al Congreso" with a letter explaining what he thinks is wrong with it.  If he takes no action, it enters limbo.  It becomes law, but it is not in effect or enforceable until its printed in La Gaceta.

Porfirio Lobo Sosa initially defended the law, saying :
To veto this law would be to go against the interests of the nation.

But the law provoked a lot of opposition, both from business( the Associacion Nacional de Industriales de Honduras (ANDI) and the Asociacion Nacional de Minería Metálica, and even COHEP), unions (like Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de Bebidas y Similares), and campesino groups.

On August 15, 2013, after Lobo Sosa had to have acted one way or another, he announced he would not sign the law, not because he didn't believe in it, but rather because it might hurt Juan Orlando Hernandez's chances of getting elected:
I'm not going to convert this into a campaign issue.  When the new president arrives he can decide to approve it or not; it will stay in the desk for him.

Now he was very clear to say he's not going to veto the law, but just put it in his desk.  That meant the law was already law, just not in effect because it hadn't been published.

And the law wasn't a campaign issue.

Then the Presidential campaign concluded, with Juan Orlando Hernandez declared  President. When it could no longer influence the results of the election, Porfirio Lobo Sosa signed the law on December 18, and ordered its publication in La Gaceta where it appeared in the December 20, 2013 issue, which came out this week (they're slow to publish).

It is now in effect, and the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez, who championed the law, will have 90 days to implement the administrative structure and regulations that will govern the issuance  securities backed by  natural resources income streams.

Honduras wants to sell the net present value of its wind, its rivers, and its mineral rights.  Who will buy them?

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