Mexico’s Anti-Poverty Programmes Are Losing the Battle

Monday, August 10, 2015

While most of Latin America has been reducing poverty, Mexico is moving in the other direction: new official figures reflect an increase in the number of poor in the last two years, despite the billions of dollars channeled into a broad range of programmes aimed at combating the problem.

The negative impact of the 2014 fiscal reform, poorly-designed and mismanaged public policies, sluggish economic growth, and family incomes that have been frozen are all factors underlying the rise in the number of people living in poverty in the region’s second-most populous country, according to experts consulted by IPS.

“We have some well-designed social programmes, but many others have got off track,” said Edna Jaime, the head of México Evalúa, a think tank on public policies. “They claim to fight poverty and foment employment, but they have no effect. Many are captive; they serve political clientele instead of the public,” she told IPS.

The criticism is focused on initiatives like the Programme of Direct Support for the Countryside (PROCAMPO), which will shell out some four billion dollars in subsidies this year – money that will mainly benefit big agroexporters in northern Mexico, even though the programme was initially aimed at helping small-scale farmers weather the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in effect between Canada, Mexico and the United States since 1994.

Other targets of the criticism are the over 15 billion dollars a year in subsidies for gas and electricity, because they benefit the bigger consumers.

In Latin America’s second-largest economy, some seven billion dollars a year go into 48 federal programmes focused on production, income generation and employment services.

Source: Inter Press Service (link opens in a new window)

poverty alleviation, public policy