Ecuador's Lasso proposes economic reforms to reactivate economy


Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso speaks during the annual gathering in New York City for the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, U.S., September 21, 2021. Spencer Platt/Pool via REUTERS

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Ecuadorean president Guillermo Lasso on Friday proposed new labor regulations and a tax reform targeting some $700 million in new revenue as part of a broad economic growth plan that will require approval from a skeptical legislature.

The oil exporting nation's economy has for years struggled under low crude prices, and the pandemic left 5.8 million people without permanent employment. Lasso this year renegotiated a $6.5 billion financing agreement with the International Monetary Fund in order to speed up disbursements.

The labor and tax reforms will have to be approved by the National Assembly, where Lasso's party does not have a majority. Lawmakers have already asked Lasso's administration to make changes to the proposed budget for 2021.

"The proposal I am leaving in your hands today is of an urgent economic nature, and it is unpostponable," said Lasso upon delivering the "Creating Opportunities" plan to the legislature. "What we are presenting is reasonable."

The new labor regulations would seek to stimulate telecommuting and allow work hours to be distributed in different ways, according to the plan. Unions have complained that the changes could undermine workers' rights, which Lasso denies.

The plan seeks an increase in income tax deductions for citizens who earn more than $24,000 annually, which Lasso says would affect 3.5% of the economically active population. It would also create a two-year tax for people with more than $500,000 in assets and a one-time tax on companies with more than $1 million in assets that turned a profit in 2020.

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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