efe-epaMexico City

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday that his administration would stay focused on government austerity and criticized former officials for using Mexican taxpayers' funds to pay for such things as plastic surgery.

"No one talks about this. They paid for plastic surgeries with the people's money. They stretched their skin to look younger," the president said as he stretched his face with his fingers to imitate a face lift.

"They paid with the (country's) budget, I have proof," Lopez Obrador, the founder and leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), said during his daily press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City.

The president discussed his "Republican austerity plan," which calls for the elimination of the "privileges" enjoyed by government officials.

Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, said that prior administrations spent 5 billion pesos (about $270 million) a year on private medical care for government officials, including cosmetic surgery, something that Lopez Obrador ended.

AMLO said that he also eliminated the government's savings bank, where public officials could deposit a percentage of their salary for the government to match and then return to them when they leave office.

"These (privileges) no longer exist. In the next presidential report in June, I am going to list all of this, how privileges were eliminated," Lopez Obrador said.

AMLO spoke once again about his relationship with the press and his statements on Monday when he urged journalists to be "reasonable" and claimed his "right to respond."

"I said I was going to exercise my right to respond and it was misinterpreted when I said that everyone is responsible for their actions and dialogue should be a two-way street," AMLO said, adding that he regretted that his remarks had been confused with "threats."

Finally, given that it is Holy Week, he was asked if he will grant radio and television licenses to religious congregations, even though Mexico is a secular country.

"We are going to see if there's any space or time available for churches and everything having to do with the dissemination of religious messages," AMLO said.

According to AMLO, secularism "means not having a preference for a religion."

Despite his point of view, he requested a report from the Government Secretariat to evaluate the pros and cons of this decision from a legal point of view.