- Villavicencio says contracts awarded have been too generous
- Candidate says soaring crime rate is a damp on the economy
Stephan Kueffner and Matthew Bristow, Bloomberg News
EnergiesNet.com 05 22 2023
One of Ecuador’s most prominent presidential hopefuls pledged to renegotiate contracts with foreign oil and mining companies and to take a tough line on the drug cartels behind a surge in violence.
Fernando Villavicencio, who was an independent lawmaker until congress was dissolved this week, criticized as overly generous contracts awarded to companies including PetroChina Co., Halliburton Co. and SLB, which was formerly known as Schlumberger.
“This doesn’t mean that I’m against the participation of private, foreign and national capital — on the contrary,” Villavicencio said Thursday, in an interview in Quito. “But there has to be some profitability left over for the state.”
Villavicencio said he isn’t proposing to change the tax rates for such companies, nor is he in favor of nationalization. He also said he favors free trade, and backed the current government’s narrowing of the fiscal deficit under an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
Ecuador’s economy will expand 2.9% this year, from 3% in 2022, according to the IMF. Villavicencio said that the growing power of organized crime gangs involved in extortion and kidnapping as well as drug trafficking was holding back growth. He said he favors a “tough line” on mafia bosses, but that he isn’t advocating a mass roundup of lower-level criminals of the kind organized by President Nayib Bukele in El Salvador.
Ecuador has suffered soaring bloodshed over the past five years as cocaine traffickers fought for control of ports and routes, spreading terror with car bombs and contract killings.
Villavicencio, 59, became a household name in Ecuador during the 2007-2017 government of President Rafael Correa, when he reported on corruption scandals related to loans from China, and on illegal campaign financing.
The latter led to Correa’s conviction in absentia for graft, meaning that the former president would face arrest were he to return to Ecuador from his current home in Belgium.
Ecuador’s electoral authority set the tentative date of Aug. 20 for the election of a new president and lawmakers, after President Guillermo Lasso this week shut down congress to forestall his impeachment trial.
bloomberg.com 05 19 2023