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Moreno drops tax plan to support recovery; Court blocks university budget cuts; City buses ready to resume service at 50% capacity

The National Assembly is considering President Lenin Moreno’s Humanitarian Support law.

President Lenin Moreno has withdrawn a proposal that would have taxed individuals and businesses to support Ecuador’s beleaguered economy. The proposed Humanitarian Support Law, currently being debated in National Assembly, would have raised $1.5 billion, but Assembly leaders said it lacks the votes to pass if the taxes are included.

“I have listened to political and social leaders, entrepreneurs and employees and have decided to drop the taxes,” he said on social media. “We all have the same priority, to save jobs and companies and to return our country to a healthy standard of living.”

Last month, the president insisted that the tax revenue was needed to support an economic recovery from the Covid-19 health emergency and to cover losses from the collapse of oil prices.

Moreno urged legislators to continue deliberations on provisions that address agreements between debtors and banks, employers and employees and tenants and landlords in relation to the Covid-19 emergency. “Many Ecuadorians have been adversely affected by the crisis and they must be protected,” he said.

The Assembly continues its debate of the bill today.

Virus update

Constitutional Court stops university budget reduction
Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ordered the Ministry of Finance to drop plans to reduce the budgets of public universities by $98 million. The ministry had claimed that the coronavirus health crisis and the drop in oil prices made cuts to all government budgets necessary. The court ruled that the constitution prohibits the reduction of funding to public education and health services. University students and staff have protested the cuts in Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil since last week.

Paute goes to ‘yellow light’ status next week
The Paute Emergency Operations Committee voted Thursday to adopt “yellow light” health emergency rules for the canton. The change from red, beginning May 18, allows the opening of more businesses, relaxation of curfew hours and more driving privileges for car owners. Paute is the first city in Azuay Province to make the change.

City buses ready to roll
Cuenca’s municipal buses are ready to resume operations, according to the Cuenca Transportation Chamber. “The system will begin service with 50 percent of the fleet and will observe safety standards that have been reviewed by the Ministry of Health,” the chamber said in statement. “We await the decision by the cantonal Emergency Operations Committee regarding when service will resume but we are hopeful it will be May 19.” The bus system suspended operations on March 17.