Peru president proposes creation of Environment Ministry

Peru President Alan García has proposed the creation of an Environment Ministry to meet the environmental provisions included in the free trade agreement with the United States.

During the ceremony of four new cabinet ministers yesterday, García said “the free trade agreement has brought a fundamental call to attention, that we owe to our Democrat friends in the U.S. Congress, to strengthen labor rights and the defense of the environment.” García added: “I’ll propose to Congress, or perhaps using the authority that was given kindly and democratically by Congress to the Executive, the creation of an Environment Ministry.”

The president of the National Society of Mining, Petroleum and Energy, Ysaac Cruz Ramírez, told daily Correo there is little reason for an Environment Ministry. Cruz said it would overlap with responsibilities in existing State organizations, like the National Environment Council, CONAM, which is responsible for planning, coordinating, and promoting environmental projects.

But environmentalist Antonio Brack Egg, told daily El Comercio “CONAM is simply a council, it doesn’t have any real authority to carry out or direct the programs that it proposes.” “Finally,” he added, “ the environment is becoming an important political priority in policy decisions.”

The U.S.-Peru FTA was ratified by President George W. Bush on Dec. 14, after being passed by the House and Senate. U.S. and Peru authorities need to enact legislative changes before the agreement can be fully implemented. They expect the changes to take approximately eight months.

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