Conservative Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso took office on Monday, pledging to revitalize an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic and create jobs for a population tired of years of painful austerity measures.
The 65-year-old former banker beat out socialist economist Andres Arauz in April, who had promised to restore the generous social spending programs of former President Rafael Correa, who had been in power for a decade until 2017.
“Ecuador must also mean a promise of balance in common life, the balance between the causes of its population, the balance between economic growth and social justice,” Lasso said in a speech. “Two cornerstones that will form the basis of a prosperous and just country.”
But given tight public finances and a congress led by the indigenous Pachakutik party, which has often spoken out against mining and oil projects that generate much of Ecuador’s export revenue, Lasso has few clear ways to drive growth.
Outgoing President Lenin Moreno, who did not seek a second term, was unable to stimulate the economy with traditional free market measures such as cutting government spending and borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Lasso has announced that he will encourage new private sector investment and seek a review of the $ 6.5 billion IMF deal to ease some of its terms.
He has also promised an ambitious COVID-19 vaccination schedule for his first 100 days in office as a strategy to reactivate industrial and commercial activities that have been paralyzed by quarantine measures for much of the past year.