By Miguel Gutierrez and Luis Rojas
MEXICO CITY Oct 17 Mexico's lower house of
Congress gave general approval on Thursday to a revised
government tax plan that aims to boost receipts by nearly 3
percent of GDP by 2018.
Presented last month, President Enrique Pena Nieto's plan to
strengthen Mexico's weak tax receipts ran into opposition from
business groups and conservatives in Congress, prompting
lawmakers in the lower house to propose stripping divisive items
from the bill.
The bill was revised on Wednesday to raise the top income
tax rate on a sliding scale to 35 percent from 30 percent,
impose a 5 percent tax on junk food and roll back plans to apply
sales tax to rents, mortgages, property sales and school fees.
It must still be passed by the Senate, which is expected to
approve the reform by the start of November. It is tied to the
2014 budget, which must be signed off on by mid-November.
Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said earlier on Thursday the
revisions would leave the government with a revenue shortfall of
55.7 billion pesos ($4.4 billion), which the government is
expected to seek to plug by raising its oil revenue forecast.
Mexico relies on revenues from state oil monopoly Pemex to
generate about a third of federal tax receipts, and the 2014
budget had projected an average oil price of $81 per barrel.
Lawmakers in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party,
or PRI, have said Congress could ratchet up the estimate for
next year to $86 a barrel, the benchmark for this year.
Videgaray said the cuts to the tax reform meant it would
only improve Mexico's tax take by about 1 percentage point of
GDP in 2014, 0.4 of a point less than originally planned.
But it would still yield an additional 2.8 percent of GDP by
the time Pena Nieto leaves office in 2018, the minister added.