The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), Ruben Flores, yesterday ignored a debt of $ 13 million that supposedly the institution should pay to the National Storage Unit (UNA-EP) for the purchase of rice for export to Cuba, which It was done five years ago in exchange for the arrival of doctors from that country to give attention in Ecuador.
The unusual operation, which according to Flores does not have legal backing for the alleged payment, was made in 2013 and consists of an inter-ministerial agreement signed by the then ministers of Agriculture, Javier Ponce, and Foreign Affairs, Raúl Patiño.
“There is a debt that I do not accept; a debt that UNA has registered as MAG; is an Ecuadorian rice exchange with Cuban doctors: the doctors came and the rice went, but nobody paid the UNA, “Flores said yesterday, in the midst of a hearing in the Economic Development Committee of the Assembly, chaired by Esteban Albornoz (Alfarista Revolution).
The presence of the minister was required before the protests in the rice sector for the issue of prices of the grass and other products such as corn, potatoes and milk.
The Ministerial Agreement 176, of May 3, 2012, signed by Ponce and Patiño, indicated that “the Republic of Cuba has provided cooperation to Ecuador in areas such as medicine, by sending professionals to provide care in various pathologies to the Ecuadorian community; sanitation; granting of scholarships to Ecuadorian students for higher education and specialization studies; and that in reciprocity to this solidarity and cooperation of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Ecuador has decided to deliver to that country, as a fair compensation, the amount of fifteen thousand (15,000) tons of rice. ” However, he did not identify who would pay the cost to UNA.
Paulo Proaño, manager of UNA-EP, indicated that the debt has complicated payments to farmers due to lack of liquidity. He commented that technical tables will be held with Agriculture and Foreign Ministry to see “who has to pay”.
The Ministry had another debt with UNA-EP for $ 14 million for fertilizers, which, according to Flores and Proaño, has already been partially canceled. He also had one for $ 1.1 million 3 years ago for the purchase of quinoa, which was finally canceled in this administration.
Assemblymen like César Rohon (PSC) asked that the issue be placed in the hands of the Comptroller General, to which the minister indicated that this case is already being studied in said control body. (I)