In a Sunday interview with Univision tv, President Lenin Moreno said the government is conducting a top-to-bottom review of the fuel subsidies that cost Ecuador billions of dollars a year. The first subsidy to be eliminated, he said, may be the one for high-octane gasoline.
On the possible release of Julian Assange from Ecuador’s British embassy, the president again said he would insist that the WikiLeaks founder not face the death penalty if he is extradited to the U.S.
In a 30-minute discussion with Univision news anchor Patricia Janiot, Moreno said that protecting the poorest Ecuadorians is a key component of the fuel subsidy review. “This has been the focus of my government since the beginning and it will remain the case as we evaluate the subsidies,” he said.
He said one of the first subsidies to be eliminated may the one for “super”, or high-octane gasoline. “This fuel is for expensive vehicles that are not owned by poor people. The people who own these cars and trucks can afford to pay market price for gasoline.”
The government subsidy for gasoline covers more than 50 percent of the actual market cost, Moreno said. Regular gasoline costs $1.48 a gallon with the subsidy while “super” is $2.19. World-wide, the market prices, with taxes, are $5.80 and $6.95 respectively.
When asked about the status of Assange, Moreno insisted that there are conditions for ending his asylum in the London embassy. “We have talked with the British government, as well as to Mr. Assange’s attorneys, about the conditions under which he would be allowed to leave the embassy, and we believe the matter will be resolved soon.” he said.
He added: “One of my conditions, as I have said before, is that his life not be put in danger as a result of future legal action,” in reference to the possible imposition of the death penalty if Assange is extradited and found guilty of espionage in the U.S.
Answering a question about Ecuador’s economy, Moreno said the economic revitalization law currently being considered in the National Assembly will provide incentives for investment. “I believe it is a good law, with the changes I have proposed, that should stimulate economic growth.”