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National Assembly authorizes payments to businesses hurt by tram construction

The small businesses and artisans who have suffered financial losses due to construction of Cuenca’s tram system are eligible for compensation of up to $38,000. The funding was included in the Law for Economic Reactivation passed last week by the National Assembly.

Tram construction recently resumed near the Civic Plaza market district. (El Tiempo)

The payments represent a return of a variety of taxes from a three-year period, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Carlos Rojas, director of Cuenca’s office of economic development, says the program will help hundreds of small businesses because of delays in tram construction. “We understand that they have suffered damages as a result of construction delays and the funds included in the economic law will provide some relief,” he said.

Began in early 2013 under then-mayor Paul Granda, now Ecuador’s minister of public works, the train system was scheduled to be complete in late 2015 or early 2016. The current completion date, according to Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, is November of this year, although testing will push back full operations until January or February 2019.

According to the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce, more than 200 businesses on the tram route have closed permanently during construction period.

According to Rojas, national and city funding will provide additional support for the affected businesses. “This year, we plan to offer training sessions, workshops, fairs, exhibitions and other events to support business owners in the historic center.” He added that additional funds will be offered through low interest loans from public and private banks.

Rojas said efforts to help businesses will continue into the early months of tram operation when vehicular traffic will be banned on the rain route in the historic district.

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