Ecuadorian president unveils steps to cushion economic impact of COVID-19

Source: Xinhua| 2020-05-20 03:54:30|Editor: huaxia

QUITO, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno on Tuesday announced steps to cushion the economic impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent lockdown, which has led to 12 billion U.S. dollars in losses and wiped out 150,000 jobs.

His government will significantly cut public spending and shorten the work day, said Moreno.

"The country has never faced such a grave situation," Moreno said in a nationally broadcast address, adding the steps aim "to prevent the nation's economy from collapsing."

Ecuador reported 33,582 confirmed cases of infection and 2,799 deaths from the disease as of Monday, placing it among the hardest hit countries in Latin America, along with Brazil, Peru and Chile.

The government will slash public spending by more than 4 billion U.S. dollars, including trimming capital payments on the nation's foreign debt by 1.3 billion dollars and interest payments on the debt by another 1.3 billion dollars.

However, 750 million dollars will be earmarked to improve the healthcare and welfare systems stretched thin by the pandemic, and more than one billion dollars will be designated to reactivate production.

Government employees will see their work day shortened from eight to six hours, with salaries adjusted to reflect the shorter work week, and many will be able to work remotely to continue social distancing measures and save on public-sector expenses.

That measure exempts those in the health sector and security, such as police and armed forces. Enditem