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Back to National Funding of Road Infrastructure

I. Introduction

The highway system of Mexico is made up of federal highways, state highways, and rural roads.  Federal highways are those that connect with roads from foreign countries; link two or more states of the Federation; and are wholly or mostly built by the Federation with federal funds or through federal grants by individuals, states, or municipalities.[1]  Federal highways are built and maintained by the federal government through the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation.[2] 

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II. Funding for National Road Infrastructure

The Federal Constitution mandates that the states may not in any case “levy duties on persons or goods transiting their territory.”[3]  In compliance with this mandate, Mexico has networks of federal and state highways that have free access.[4]  The federal government finances the construction and maintenance of federal highways with revenues from the annual federal budget.[5]  Mexico also has networks of federal and state highways that charge tolls.[6] 

Mexico does not tax road usage by vehicle miles traveled (VMT).  The Mexican government sets the retail prices of gasoline and diesel fuel monthly.  Gasoline and diesel fuel have been subsidized since 2006, whereas previously they were consistently taxed.  However, vulnerable groups in society, such as the poor, have generally not benefited from the subsidy because they often lack the income to purchase cars or other goods that use fuel; consequently, since 2010, the government has instituted small, monthly retail-price increases with the aim of eventually phasing out the subsidy.  By the end of 2013, these increases had brought Mexican fuel prices nearly on a par with international fuel costs.[7] 

The Federal Revenue Law of 2014 mandates that the Special Tax on Production and Services (Impuesto Especial Sobre Producción y Servicios, IEPS) apply to gasoline and diesel fuel,[8] with the aim of reducing the growth rate of greenhouse gas emissions.[9]

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III.  New Initiatives on Road Infrastructure

Although no official discussion on alternative means of highway funding was located, a recent publication by a Mexican civil engineer on the preservation of federal toll-free highways recommends that funds for highway maintenance be generated through a tax on gasoline.[10] 

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Norma Gutiérrez
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
March 2014


[1] Ley de Caminos, Puentes y Autotransporte Federal [Law of Roads, Bridges and Federal Motor Transportation], art. 2, Diario Oficial [D.O.], Dec. 22, 1993, as amended,

[2] Id. art. 5.

[3] Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos [Politcal Constitution of the United Mexican States], as amended, art. 117(IV), D.O., Feb. 5, 1917, pdf/1.pdf (translated by the author).

[4] César Alberto Cortés Prado, Metodología Para la Selección de Alternativas de Conservación de Carreteras, Usando el Modelo HDM-4 (2005) (unpublished civil engineering degree thesis, Universidad de las Américas, Puebla), available at

[5] Presupuesto de Egresos de la Federación para el Ejercicio Fiscal 2014 [Federal Budget Expenditures for Fiscal 2014], D.O., Dec. 3, 2013,

[6] Cortés Prado, supra note 4.

[7] Michael D. Plante & Amy Jordan, Getting Prices Right: Addressing Mexico’s History of Fuel Subsidies, in Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Southwest Economy: Third Quarter 2013 at 10, 11 & 13, available at swe1303d.pdf.

[8] Decreto por el que se Expide la Ley de Ingresos para el Ejercicio Fiscal de 2014, y se Reforma el Primer Párrafo del Artículo 2 de la Ley de Ingresos de la Federación para el Ejercicio Fiscal de 2013 [Decree on the Revenue Act for Fiscal Year 2014, and to Amend the First Paragraph of Article 2 of the Federal Revenue Act for Fiscal Year 2013], art. 1, D.O., Nov. 20, 2013.

[9] El 2014 Inicia con Nuevos Impuestos; Gasolina, Pan, Comida, Chatarra y Para Mascotas ya Tienen Carga Fiscal, (Jan. 1, 2014),

[10] Ing. Arturo M. Monforte Ocampo, Conservación de Carreteras Federales Libres de Peaje 10–11 (Academia de Ingienería, A.C. 2008), (click on “Eventos Y Publicaciones,” then “Coloquios,” then “VI,” and then, under “Ing. Arturo Manuel Monforte Ocampo,” click on “Descargar Trabajo”).

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Last Updated: 01/23/2015