Ecuador‘s President Lenin Moreno unveiled an emergency economic plan Friday aimed at rescuing the South American nation hard hit by the new coronavirus and then dealt a second blow when two large pipelines broke, halting critical crude exports.
Moreno in a nationwide broadcast urged the nation to come together, saying that Ecuador’s massive foreign debt he inherited from past governments will have to be renegotiated, while large businesses earnings over $1 million annually will have to contribute five per cent of their profits.
Drastic measures will also require residents who earn more than $500 monthly to pitch in, he said.
“This economic emergency is unprecedented in the recent history of this country,” Moreno said.
Ecuador, which largely depends on oil exports, was already buckling under $65 billion in foreign debt, when the coronavirus struck. In recent weeks images of the dead left in the streets flooded social media.
It’s been one of Latin America’s nations hardest hit by the virus, infecting 7,161 people and causing 297 deaths, taking its greatest toll on the port city of Guayaquil.
The situation turned worse on Monday, when dual pipelines transporting crude from deep within the Amazon broke as the Quijos River flooded, washing away a mountainside supporting the pipes.
Moreno said he will also send a bill to the lawmakers asking them to make it harder for landlords to evict tenants unable to pay their rent and extending social security benefits for laid-off workers, among measures.
Ecuador will request help from the financial institutions including the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the new United States Development Bank, Moreno said.
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