The Government of Ecuador announced today that it is preparing a proposal for productive development for the border area with Colombia, affected by the insecurity caused by illegal armed groups linked to drug trafficking.
The Minister of Industries and Productivity, Eva García, exhibited parts of the project after maintaining a meeting in the Government Palace of Quito with businessmen from the border province of Esmeraldas, affected by several violent acts in recent weeks.
Among other issues, the plan suggests the exemption of taxes and tariffs for raw materials, capital goods and intermediate inputs for all companies in Esmeraldas, a province in which some 626,000 people live, the Ministry of Industries said in a statement.
The group of 25 businessmen, who met today with Garcia, represents sectors of the palm farming, fishing, forest industry and cocoa that occurs in the jurisdictions of San Lorenzo and Eloy Alfaro, affected by insecurity.
The businessmen asked for support from the Government to maintain the 5,000 job places they generate, as well as to protect the 300 million dollars in investments and 120 million foreign exchange earnings from exports.
The minister, on her side, identified the border area as a pole of productive development thanks to the diversity of micro-climates, their fertile areas and susceptible to the diversified production of agricultural products, access to maritime, river and air ports, and the large amount of labor available.
These actions, she said, aim to reduce the unemployment rate of 7.8 percent that currently has the province and 20.1 percent of underemployment or precarious employment.
The Secretary of State, who indicated that she will present tomorrow, Tuesday, the proposal to the president of the country, Lenin Moreno, said that the plan suggests executing development programs for suppliers, promoting productive linkages and industrialization of the agricultural sector, providing training and technification.
Also, develop a relationship between educational institutions and companies, strengthen the seaport and Esmeraldas airport; apply contracting modalities adapted to the productive reality and reactivate housing plans.
Other aspects of the proposal, she said, are related to the optimization of connectivity in the area to reduce the digital divide, guarantee the generation, distribution and transmission of electricity and reduce electricity tariffs for new companies.
The plan aims to increase the percentage of manufacturing industries in Esmeraldas, which at the moment reaches 4%, in relation to other economic activities such as trade with 35%; agriculture and fishing with 27%, lodging and meals 8%, transport and storage 7% and other activities with 19%.
It also includes a comprehensive security plan for companies that involves police and military control actions, the use of special surveillance equipment, obtaining international cooperation and technical assistance.
To polish the proposal, a meeting of the Productive and Tax Consultative Council will be convened for next Friday, the statement from the Ministry of Industries states.
Additionally, it indicates that at today’s meeting it was decided to send a normative proposal for the draft Law on Investment Attraction, which analyzes the Presidency of the Republic, so that alternatives to the productive sector of Esmeraldas are offered through a special regime that improves competitiveness. (I)