Mexico's president says he will enact energy reform soon

MEXICO CITY Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:01am EST

A demonstrators waves Mexican national flags in front of a line of police officers during a protest against an energy reform and subway fare hike at Reforma Avenue in Mexico City December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

A demonstrators waves Mexican national flags in front of a line of police officers during a protest against an energy reform and subway fare hike at Reforma Avenue in Mexico City December 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Monday he would soon enact a sweeping overhaul of Mexico's ailing energy sector which is aimed at boosting growth in Latin America's No. 2 economy.

The reform, which changes the constitution to allow private companies to operate independently or partner with state oil giant Pemex via new types of contracts, won approval from a majority of Mexican states on Sunday, after a tense debate in Congress.

"It will be necessary to wait for a declaration from Congress's permanent committee, which will surely happen in the coming days, and once that happens, I will immediately enact the reform," Pena Nieto said while on a state visit to Turkey.

The energy overhaul is part of a raft of reforms pushed through Congress this year by Pena Nieto, including bids to boost competition in the telecoms sector and jumpstart lending.

While key reforms have been approved, some, including a political reform demanded by opposition parties to level the playing field in local elections, still lack implementing laws that hash out the fine print of the reform.

David Penchyna, a Senator for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and head of the powerful energy committee, said on Monday Congress could push through implementing laws as soon as March.

"Being optimistic, I would say that from February to March Congress will finish pending matters such as in telecommunications and definitely finish the political and energy work in which we have advanced significantly," Penchyna told a local radio station.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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