ECUADOR DIGEST
Gasoline in short supply in some coastal areas

Posted By Admin | Published: August 16, 2009 01:21

Many gas stations in Portoviejo and Manta are limiting customers to a $5 purchase due to gasoline shortages. According to distributors, the problem is the result of technical problems at the Esmeraldas oil refinery and smuggling at the Colombian and Peruvian borders.

Motorists reported widespread price gouging, with per gallon costs running as much as 50 cents above the government-mandated prices of $1.48 for regular and $2.01 for premium.

Suppliers blame most of the problem for breakdowns at the Esmeraldas plant but say the situation is exacerbated by holiday crowds visiting the coast in the weeks before the beginning of the new school year.

Technical personnel at the Esmeraldas refinery who refused to give their names said that the plant was operating at 70% capacity because of failure of a large compressor in one of the refinery’s two production units. The refinery released a statement Friday, saying it would be back at full capacity within a week.

Gasoline smuggling is a common practice along Ecuador’s borders because the price of the country’s government subsidized gasoline is substantially lower than the market price in Colombia and Peru.


ECUADOR URGES LATIN NATIONS TO COORDINATE MONETARY POLICIES

President Rafael Correa on Monday called for the fledgling Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, to negotiate a regional monetary agreement and to move ahead with establishing a new multilateral lending agency. He also suggested that the Latin nations consider the idea of establishing a unified currency, similar to Europe’s Euro.

Earlier in the day, Ecuador took over the rotating presidency of the group, which is made up of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In a speech, Correa said having an agreement to coordinate monetary policies of member countries would help avoid currency fluctuations, allowing currencies to move within limited margins. He also said it would help avoid competitive devaluations of currencies.

Various South American nations, including Ecuador, are also trying to organize a multilateral lending bank, known as the Bank of the South.

Correa urged a restructuring of the debt burdens of South American countries, including partial cancellation of debt. He also pushed for the creation of an electronic regional payment system to achieve greater autonomy from other financial centers, and to boost trade.

Correa also said the Unasur should help create a regional arbitration-hearing process for business conflicts.
 
Credit: Dow Jones Newswires, emergingmarkets@dowjones.com


ADMISSION TO GOVERNMENT-OWNED MUSEUMS IS NOW FREE FOR CITZENS AND RESIDENTS

The Ecuadorian government has announced that admission will be free for citizens and residents at all museums, parks and cultural centers operated by the Central Bank of Ecuador. Entry fees for foreign visitors will not change, according to the new rules.

According to the Central Bank’s office of cultural affairs, the elimination of fees is in line with provisions of the new constitution mandating that there be no barriers for citizens and residents learn about the country’s history and culture.
 
Facilities affected by the new order are in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Loja, Ibarra, Riobamba, Esmeraldas, Portoviejo, Manta, Bahia de Caráquez and Santa Helena. In Cuenca, the Banco Central Museum and the Pumapungo Archaeological Park are affected by the new rules.

To gain free entry, citizens and residents will be required to show their cedulas.


AEROGAL WILL BEGIN GUAYAQUIL TO JFK FLIGHTS ON DECEMBER 7

Ecuadorian airline Aerogal has announced that it will begin daily service between Guayaquil and New York’s JFK airport on December 7. Aerogal will operate Boeing 767 aircraft on the new route, although it is not yet clear where the aircraft will come from since Aerogal does not currently have 767s.

In 2008, the carrier was purchased by Avianca-owner Synergy Group, and made a pact to begin using several Avianca Boeing737 and 757 aircraft, including those which allowed them to begin Miami service.


GOVERNMENT SAYS THAT ECUADOR’S LITERACY RATE RISES

Ecuador’s Minister of Education, Raul Vallejo, says that the country’s illiteracy rate has dropped to 3.8%, one of the lowest in Latin America. Reducing illiteracy was a campaign promise made by President Rafael Correa is the 2006 campaign and following his election the government has instituted a series of high school and continuing education programs intended to achieve the goal, Vallejo says.