Bloomberg — Ecuador presidential candidate Daniel Noboa backtracked on a plan to spend $1.5 billion of the country’s foreign reserves, saying he’d only take such action in dire circumstances.
During a presidential debate ahead of an Oct. 15 runoff he’s favored to win, Noboa, 35, called tapping the nation’s $6.4 billion in foreign reserves a “plan z, a last resort” in case of an economic emergency. Ecuador is bracing for losses from a predicted severe El Niño climate phenomenon in the coming months.
The scion of the Noboa banana empire softened his tone after saying earlier on the campaign trail that he planned to tap the funds. His comments had led Ecuador’s bond prices to give back some of the gains they had made after polls gave him a solid lead over leftist candidate Luisa Gonzalez.
For her part, Gonzalez, 45, repeated her pledge to deploy $2.5 billion from the reserves to accelerate economic growth. In a rare public rebuke, Central Bank General Manager Guillermo Avellan last week warned both candidates of the risk of depleting the nation’s reserve buffer.
Gonzalez’s mentor, former President Rafael Correa, had already tried such measures starting in 2014 to offset the fall in the price of crude oil, Ecuador’s main export.
During the two-hour debate, Noboa also said he would call a referendum within 100 days of taking office to make it easier to enlist the military in the fight against terrorism. He also said he’d seek national votes on judicial and labor reform.
The candidate said he plans to use fast-track economic legislation to accelerate reforms to boost Ecuador’s competitiveness.
Gonzalez sought to distinguish herself from Correa, noting it was her name on the ballot. She called for national unity in the face of problems including a spike in homicides and political polarization. She has said she would seek to repeal legislation from 2021 that barred the government from borrowing from the central bank.
Polls have consistently reported Noboa leading Gonzalez by about 10 percentage points.
Read more at Bloomberg.com