PPK's next hurdle: delegated powers

3 September 2016

Having cleared its first major hurdle – winning a vote of confidence in the new cabinet led by Fernando Zavala, the Kuczynski administration now faces its next one: winning parliamentary support for a raft of measures designed to tackle problems of the economy and security. The formal request is due to be made on 5 September and will cover issues concerned with economic policy, security, anti-corruption, health and the “restructuring and reorganisation” (read privatisation?) of Petroperú. http://larepublica.pe/impresa/politica/798933-ejecutivo-incluye-reduccion-del-igv-en-pedido-de-delegacion-de-facultades

The Fujimorista majority will be tempted to assert itself and condition what it will allow the executive to do and what not. It will not want to offer President Kuczynski and his colleagues a blank cheque.

The authorisation by Congress to enable the executive to legislate on measures it sees fit goes back to the early 1980s when President Fernando Belaunde and (then) Economy Minister Manuel Ulloa used it to begin liberalising the economy after the interventionist years of the military docenio (1968 to 1980). On that occasion, supported by the conservative Partido Popular Cristiano (PPC) he had sufficient support in Congress to do so.

When he was elected president ten years later, Alberto Fujimori resorted to the same tactic to push ahead with the economic liberalisation strategy interrupted by the first García administration. Between 1990 and his exit in 2000, Fujimori used so-called ‘delegated powers’ to push through 296 decrees. Of these 157 were authorised in his first two years in office, prior to the April 1992 autogolpe.

More recently, between 2006 and 2011, Alan García used delegated powers to enact 135 decrees, having secured parliamentary approval to do so on four separate occasions. Most of these were used supposedly to adapt Peruvian legislation to the exigencies of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. Among these was the legislation that led to the Bagua conflict of 2009. President Ollanta Humala resorted to seeking such powers to enact 144 decrees during his five years in office (2011-16).

The enabling legislation to allow such delegated powers has to spell out what the main issues the government on which the government intends to use these powers and the length of time for which such delegated powers will last. As was arguably the case with the legislation associated with Bagua, the legislation is sometimes used for purposes far from that specified beforehand. This time then, it is likely that members of Congress will want to nail down in greater detail the sort of legislation that will be permitted so that the powers delegated are not misused. They are also likely to observe closely how such powers are used and to what effect.

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