Employment drops, Cuenca’s poverty rate is lowest
Ecuador’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in June 2018 from June 2017, currently standing at 4.1 percent. Underemployment also dropped, from 20.5 percent in 2017 to 19.4 percent in 2018, according to the national census office (INEC). The report also showed that more people, mostly women, are working part-time by preference. In its index of poverty, INEC said that the rate stands at 24.5 percent nationally. Of the major cities, the rate was 14.1 percent in Guayaquil, 12.8 percent in Quito and 2.8 percent in Cuenca. A family of five is considered to be living in poverty if household income is less than $424 a month.
FARC dissidents want to form a Colombian coalition
The FARC military units that refused to sign the 2015 peace agreement with the Colombian government have plans to consolidate. In a letter addressed to “Guacho” of the Óliver Sinisterra Front, based in southwestern Colombian, “Gentil Duarte” who heads an Amazonian unit of former rebels, describes plans to unify several ex-FARC units in the country to optimize resources. The letter says, “We are still in struggle without defrauding the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism … and above all, fulfilling this great task of taking power using all forms of struggle, including military.” In addition to their political objectives, FARC dissidents also admit to producing and trafficking illegal drugs to finance their operations.
Moreno makes oil exploration and extraction easier
President Lenin Moreno has modified the hydrocarbons law to make it easier for private companies to sign contracts with the government to explore for and extract oil in the country. The new rules allow contractors to assume the costs of operation, transportation and sales of oil, with costs and profits to be shared with the government. Under the old rules, the government managed the exploration and extraction process, charging a fee to oil companies. Minister of Hydrocarbons Carlos Pérez García says the change will expedite the bidding process.
Government says it will begin paying IESS debt
Ecuador social security system (IESS) says that medical service to its members will improve as a result of the government’s decision to begin repaying a $3.1 billion debt that has accumulated since 2001. Recent internal reports say that delays in service and a lack of supplies in IESS hospitals and clinics is the result of a funding deficit. The decision to recognize and repay the debt reverses a 2016 decision by the previous government not to recognize the debt.