MEXICO CITY, March 20 (Reuters) - Mexican lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill to eliminate the ability of companies that operate public utilities to block regulator decisions during the court appeals process.
The Senate approved the reform with a wide majority, and it will be sent to President Enrique Pena Nieto to be signed into law. The lower house already approved the bill.
Changing the legal code governing Mexico’s complex legal injunctions, the bill will affect firms with public concessions, such as telecommunications and mining companies.
Companies, such as billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil , have used injunctions to block regulator decrees. The tool has enabled firms to extend legal battles over years and stymie the ability of authorities to improve competition.
“This new law puts an end to the abuses committed by some business sectors that have turned injunctions into their favorite dirty trick,” said Senator Javier Corral, of the conservative opposition National Action Party (PAN).
Several important industries in Mexico, such as television and the mobile phone market, are dominated by a handful of firms.
The injunction reform helps backstop a sweeping telecommunications bill, presented by Pena Nieto last week that could end broadcaster Televisa’s rule of the airwaves as well as Slim’s stranglehold on the phone business.
Business lobby groups fought the bill. Gerardo Gutierrez Candiani, head of Mexico’s Business Coordination Council, said the law would leave companies “defenseless” against authorities.
“An arbitrary act of the authority could bankrupt a company,” he said.
Pena Nieto’s government, which took office in December, forged an accord with the two main opposition parties to work on a series of initiatives, including major energy and tax reforms.