A defiant President Guillermo Lasso’s said Thursday he will continue to push for passage of his “Opportunities Creation” law, despite its rejection by the Administrative Council (CAL) of the National Assembly. “There is nothing more important to Ecuadorian families than having good jobs that provide a good standard of living,” he said at the inauguration of an electrification project in Imbabura Province.
Lasso said he would consider the criticisms of the proposed law by members of CAL and was open to making changes that do not affect his intention of creating more jobs. “More than 70 percent of Ecuadorians work informally and do not have access to good, steady employment,” he said. “This must change if the country is to move forward and to eliminate high rates of poverty and malnutrition among children. I will use all legal and constitutional power at my disposal to make this proposal become law and to provide the people with the right to work.”
Although he did not mention it specifically, he alluded to the possibility that the proposal may eventually go to a public referendum. “This law is needed and desired by the people and they may ultimately put it into practice.”
By a five to two vote, CAL rejected Opportunities as it was presented. According to Assemblywoman Johanna Moreira of the Democratic Left, the legislation was sent back to the president because it violated a constitutional requirement that laws apply to a single subject. “As it is written, Opportunities would make changes to labor, taxation and economic laws,” she said. “This is a violation of article 136 of the constitution. If it is resubmitted, it will need to be broken into two or three separate proposals to meet our concerns.”
According to a technical review of the proposal by a CAL committee, Opportunities would change 30 existing laws.
By law, all proposed laws must be reviewed and approved by CAL before being submitted to the full National Assembly.
In comments to the press, the leadership of four parties said that even with modifications, Lasso’s proposal has little chance of passing the full Assembly. “The blocks of Pachakutik, the Democratic Left, the Christian Social Party and Correismo firmly reject this law,” said Ronny Aleaga. “It is regressive to labor rights and inadequate in its changes to the taxation regime. The president has threatened to take this to a national consultation and I suggest he pursue this option since it will not pass the Assembly.”
Most of the objections to the proposal center on changes to labor law that would allow fixed-term and flexible labor contracts, reducing employer commitment to workers. Labor unions claim the changes would “turn back the clock by 100 years” on worker rights in Ecuador. Lasso counters that current regulations discourage businesses from hiring new workers and from making new investments.