In comments about the government’s on-going negotiations with indigenous groups, President Guillermo Lasso said Saturday that current fuel subsidies benefit the wealthy more than they do the poor. “This has been a problem for years and now is the time to correct it,” he said in a radio interview. “Let’s eliminate the benefit for those who drive high-end automobiles and redirect it to the poor families who need it.”
Lasso said the subsidy for LP gas should also be targeted to the poor. “On this issue, I agree with former president [Rafael] Correa when he said that subsidized gas should not be used by the rich to heat their swimming pools in the sierra. More than 60% of the gas is used by people who can afford to pay full price. It is time we return to the original intent of providing gas for cooking for those who live in poverty.”
In addition, the president said that as much as 20% of subsidized LP gas is used by businesses who can also afford to pay full price. “The controls on distribution to commercial concerns are very poor, which allows for the misuse.”
If subsidies are targeted to the population they are intended for, Lasso added, there would be more funds available for unmet social needs. “We have a chronic crisis of child malnutrition, for example. Let’s apply the misused subsidies to eliminate the problem.”
Ecuador real estate prices are among the lowest
The cost of real estate in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca is substantially lower than in other South American cities, often by as much as 50%, according to a new study. Analyzing 35,000 2021 sales records throughout South America, the real estate consulting firm Properati, compared prices for middle class and wealthy neighborhoods.
In the middle class category, the average square meter cost in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca was $1,310 compared to $2,730 in Santiago, Chile; $2,520 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; $2,345 in Montevideo, Uruguay; $2,150 in Lima, Peru; and $1,740 in Bogotá, Colombia.
In “exclusive” or wealthy, neighborhoods, the per meter cost in the Ecuadorian cities averaged $1,670 in contrast to $3,230 in Santiago; $3,120 in Buenos Aires; $3,025 in Montevideo; $1,850 in Lima; and $1,825 in Bogotá.
The average cost of new construction in both the middle class and exclusive categories averaged $1,550 in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca while it was $2,910 in Buenos Aires, $2,860 in Montevideo, $2,150 in Lima, and $1,625 in Bogotá.
Assemblyman is target of Friday explosion
National Assembly member Fernando Villavicencio was the apparent target of a Friday night bombing near his home in Quito. Described by police as a “mid-sized detonation”, the blast was denounced by Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela as “an attack on the institution of democracy in Ecuador.”
Villavicencio, who heads the Assembly’s Oversight Commission, says the bombing was a response to his claim that drug cartels are funding some members of the Assembly’s Union of Hope party, supporters of former president Rafael Correa. He says he also has proof that drug money helped finance the indigenous strike in June. “I have no doubt drug traffickers are behind this,” Villavicencio said. “When drug money contaminates politics, as it has recently, the entire society is at risk.”
Recently, Villavicencio has become the target of a campaign by UNES party leadership to replace him as president of the Oversight Commission.