Mexico president eyes fresh pension fund ahead of election

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends an event to mark the 86th anniversary of the expropriation of foreign oil firms in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he hopes to present a new fund aimed at boosting the lower pensions in the system on May 1, a month ahead of presidential elections.

The creation of the fund, which is part of a pension reform proposed by the president in February, was approved on Monday by the country's lower house. It now needs to be passed by the Senate.

"I hope that on May 1, Labor Day, we can present a report to workers and give them the good news, that their pensions are guaranteed and that they will also be increased," Lopez Obrador said at a press conference.

The opposition has warned that the move could put workers' savings managed by private companies at risk, a claim denied by the government.

The administration hopes to initially pour some 40 billion pesos into the fund, representing the unclaimed savings of workers aged 70 or older. With the resources, it seeks to ensure that workers who earn up to 17,000 pesos ($1,001.77) a month get 100% of their salary when they retire.

Some opposition lawmakers criticized the bill's speedy approval by the lower house as politically motivated and unconstitutional.

Lopez Obrador acknowledged there is a risk that the Supreme Court could declare it unconstitutional.

Mexico's association of retirement fund entities said last week that individuals continued to have control over their accounts and that would not change with the new initiative.

At the end of March, the private system managed more than 6.1 trillion pesos ($359.46 billion).

($1 = 16.9699 Mexican pesos)

(Reporting by Raul Cortes Fernandez; Editing by Marguerita Choy)