President Lenin Moreno suffered his second political defeat in a month Sunday night when the National Assembly resoundingly rejected his Economic Growth Law. Following his capitulation to indigenous leaders in October, when he agreed to reinstated gasoline and diesel subsidies, several assembly members questioned the president’s ability to manage Ecuador’s worsening financial crisis.
The Assembly voted 70 to 32 with 31 abstentions against Moreno package of tax increases and regulatory reform even after it was reduced from 185 articles and 40 provisions 404 articles and 38 provisions.
Immediately after the vote, Moreno said he would submit a new proposal to the Assembly. “In the next few hours I will submit a new economic emergency bill focused on tax issues,” he said. He added that he regretted losing “precious time” in dealing with urgent economic problems and said his new proposal will ensure that any new taxes will impact the rich and not the poor.
Several legislators criticized the defeated law for attempting to cover too many issues. “We welcome new proposals but only if they have consensus support in the Assembly,” said assemblyman Raúl Tello. “The president says reform is urgent, yet he attempted to cover many non-tax issues and he did this without consulting even his own constituency in the Assembly.”
Another assemblyman, Henry Cucalón, said Moreno acted in bad faith. “Now he has a chance to redeem himself by opening the process to all parties. It’s time we get serious and work together to build a strong economy and strong country.”
Assemblyman Raul Tello compared Moreno to a “wounded animal” and said that he lacks a coherent economic plan. “First, he gives into Conaie and then he puts forth legislation which seems confused and was probably unconstitutional. At this point we are wondering if he has the ability to solve the country’s pressing problems.”
In his post-defeat statement, Moreno did not say which tax proposals included in the first bill will be in the second. The defeated legislation would have raised $737 million in new revenue, according to the finance ministry.