Monday, October 25

Corruption, debt and rampant crime await the future president of Ecuador | International

Ecuador's presidential candidate Andrés Arauz led a march in Quito last week.
Ecuador’s presidential candidate Andrés Arauz led a march in Quito last week.José Jácome / EFE

With the undecided vote as the third most majority option in the electoral polls of Ecuador, the candidates for president in the last week of the campaign have launched a series of proposals aimed at that large indefinite mass of Ecuadorians who are still not clear on who to point to in the ballot. Raising the basic salary from 400 dollars a month to 500 dollars is what the conservative Guillermo Lasso offers in contrast to a government program that points out the cost of labor as one of the reasons for the lack of competitiveness of the national private sector. Andrés Arauz, his main opponent sponsored by Rafael Correa, provides access to free covid-19 detection tests taking advantage of criticism of the limited and questioned vaccination plan of the Government of Lenín Moreno. They are two last-minute offers between an amalgam of effective measures that include subsidies and monthly bonuses for the most disadvantaged until lower taxes and the creation of thousands of jobs.

In the midst of it all, a cross of accusations from the pulpit of social networks between the supporters of the two most optioned candidates leave the other 14 candidates to occupy the Carondelet palace waiting for the mutual attrition to rebound in their favor. That launch of last-minute proposals, which had not been announced in the electoral campaign month that ends this Friday, speaks of some candidacies that do not have enough advantage to win this Sunday at the polls in a single round and thus avoid a second confrontation in April between the two most voted.

The winner of the electoral contest will find a country with a trail of problems pending for years and aggravated by the economic difficulties that haunt Ecuador since the 2014 oil price drop. Being a dollarized economy, it cannot issue money or play With the monetary devaluation, the Andean country has grappled from the end of the Rafael Correa Administration onwards with the depletion of resources in the export of oil that accentuated the fiscal deficit between income and expenses, triggered the public debt and aggravated the informality of the working market.

”Our goal is to create two million jobs. We are going to recover what they destroyed in the last 14 years, ”Lasso reiterated in mid-January, emphasizing his career as a businessman. “We are going to deliver $ 1,000 to a million families so that they can undertake,” Arauz launched in December, assuring that it would take the money from the reserves that the Central Bank of Ecuador has abroad, despite the fact that these savings are made up in part as a backup for the money that depositors have in their bank accounts. “Those resources are there simply to look good with the bankers. But in times of crisis, those resources have to be used in Ecuador, ”insisted the candidate sponsored by Correísmo, knowing the economic hardships of the country.

The next government will deal with an extended budget -because it is an electoral year, the accounts are the same as those of 2020- in which 2,000 million dollars per year had been included as income from sales of state assets that never materialized. With the signing of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the Government of Lenín Moreno also committed to carry out tax reforms to practically eliminate the fiscal gap in two years that force to adjust public spending.

The current Executive also leaves, on the other hand, an important oxygen balloon to the incoming president by having renegotiated the debt in sovereign bonds in the midst of the pandemic and achieving a reduction of more than 1,500 million dollars with the restructuring of the payment of 17,000 million dollars, with a grace period of five years in capital and a notorious reduction in interest rates.

In corruption and the fight against crime, the horizon is more complicated. In the cases of irregularities, investigated and sentenced, such as that of Odebrecht that sent former Vice President Jorge Glas to prison or that of bribes for which Rafael Correa and several ministers of his government are convicted, new plots have emerged in this legislature that affect public hospitals for surcharges in the purchase of medicines and medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis. In parallel, insecurity has gotten out of control in the country and especially in Guayaquil, the economic capital and the second most populous city after Quito, where there have been 47 victims of hitmen so far this year and where 363 violent deaths were registered in 2020, despite the deployment of police ordered by the Government last December due to the increase in assaults.

“They abandoned covid patients to their fate, then imported few vaccines that they distribute among family and friends. The Moreno y Lasso government handles the pandemic without transparency or humanity. Ecuadorians, there is very little left for us to have a good government, ”Arauz reproached, insinuating that his opponent in the presidential race is part of the current shadow Executive. “Let them hear me loud and clear: state money is sacred. Let those who for a long time have made the State a loot to distribute well understand me. There will be neither contemplation nor forgetfulness for them ”, Lasso censured, disfiguring the irregularities detected in the decade of Correa’s government.

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