During the ceremony marking Cuenca’s 198th independence Saturday, President Lenin Moreno said funds were forthcoming to build a new stadium, upgrade water treatment projects and to assist the city’s poor population. In addition, he said the government would provide low-cost electricity for operation of the tram and that talks are underway to establish non-stop airline flights between Cuenca and the U.S.
In his comments to the president, Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera urged limitations on mining in the Cajas Mountains that might affect the city’s watershed and assistance in paying off a $51 million loan from the French government for tram construction.
Moreno announced that Cuenca had passed the one-million tourist mark in 2017 and is on pace to increase that number in 2018. “The city has joined Quito, Guayaquil and the Galapagos as one of Ecuador’s top tourist destinations and it needs the infrastructure and facilities to accommodate national and international visitors,” he said.
Specifically, Moreno promised to support the city in its expansion of potable water and waste water treatment facilities. “Because of Cuenca´s rapid growth, there is increasing demand for clean water,” he said.
The president announced construction of a new $9 million community surveillance facility to help law enforcement in the city. “Cuenca is already one of the safest cities in the country and this will make it even safer,” he said.
He added that talks are underway to form a public-private partnership to renovate and expand Cuenca’s Alejandro Serrano Aguilar stadium. Earlier this year, the local football team was forced to play an international match in Quito due to limited seating capacity at Aguilar.
Moreno said recent changes in government policies will provide an economic boost for Cuenca in the construction and manufacturing sectors. “We eliminated the surtax on some appliances and Indurama [local manufacturer] plans to invest $70 million to expand production, which will create 2,000 new jobs,” he said. “We are also beginning to see a rebound in the building market because of the elimination of the real estate capital gains tax.”
The president offered no details on discussions to provide air service between Cuenca and Miami and New York. “Proportionately, there is more air travel to and from the U.S. by residents of Azuay and Loja provinces than from other provinces and we want to establish air routes to cover this need.”