High Court approves emergency declaration; IESS chief proposes big fee increase; Census missed 800,000 Ecuadorians; Galapagos volcano erupts

Mar 4, 2024 | 0 comments

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled Friday that the 60-day state of emergency imposed by President Daniel Noboa on January 8 is constitutional. In a statement, the court said the measures adopted during the state of emergency, which include the mobilization of the police and the armed forces, are justified by circumstances.

The court also said that the government can continue use of military personnel in some law enforcement operations, including to secure the country’s prisons, after the emergency ends. It said the use was justified due to internal armed conflict with drug gangs and cartels.

The La Cumbre volcano on Fernandina Island in the Galapagos erupted Saturday.

Noboa announced last week he will extend the emergency 30 days after the current period ends March 8.

IESS chief proposes fee increase
Social Security Board of Directors President Eduardo Peña is proposing an increase of member contributions from 20.6% to 30% of income. He claims the increase is necessary due to current budget shortfalls and to the demands of an aging population.

“Today’s contribution is not enough to adequately fund operations of our pension, health and mortgage programs, and we are forced to adjust to the current reality,” he said. “The increase would be implemented progressively over a period of time but it is essential we begin the process soon.” He added that the issue of an aging population is not unique to Ecuador. “This is the case in almost all countries, and it requires increased funding.”

The IESS contribution is split between the member and the employer, the member paying 9.45% and the employer paying 11.15% of the total.

Census missed 800,000 Ecuadorians
Census and Statistics Institute Director Roberto Castillo says that Ecuador’s population is 17.7 million, not the 16.9 million originally reported. “There were errors in our data filing process that led to the undercount,” he said in a news conference last week. “We have updated our system so this does not happen again.”

Due to declining birth rates, Castillo said the country’s population growth will slow in the coming years, rising to an estimated 21.1 million by 2050. “Within the space of 50 years, we have dropped from a birth rate per couple of more than five children per couple to the current 1.86, which is below the established replacement rate,” he said. “We were surprised by the extent of decline but it follows trends throughout the world.”

Castillo said that in-migration has more than compensated for Ecuadorians leaving the country. “Between 2010 to 2022, the country showed a net gain of 1.5 million people due to migration,” he said. “Countries supplying most of the increase are Colombia and Venezuela.”

Galapagos volcano erupts
The La Cumbre volcano on uninhabited Fernandina Island in the Galapagos has erupted. Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute predicts the eruption will be the largest in decades but says it poses no threat to tourism or populated areas of the Galapagos.

Fernandina Island is the western-most of the major islands of the Galapagos archipelago. “The gas and ash clouds from the eruption are drifting west, away from the other islands,” the institute reported Sunday.

The Galapagos National Park service issued a warning to tourist vessels operating near Fernandina Island, advising that they remain in waters on the east side of the island.

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