Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa declared Tuesday a national roads system emergency and ordered the Army to begin the construction and maintenance of the country's road network to be financed with funds originally destined to honor foreign debt payments.
"The political decision of this government is that the Armed Forces in times of peace should integrate in helping social and economic development", announced President Correa during the taking office ceremony of the military new high command. The task will be addressed by the Army's Corp of Engineers said Correa adding that "it's time the country takes advantage of all its potential and resources, particularly human resources". "Competence is the means for achieving development, social fulfillment, but if I have the resources in the government sector, a corps of engineers that with all their honesty, determination and patriotism can help rebuild the motherland, why should we give those resources to other sectors?" Incoming Army Commander General Guillermo Vasconez praised president Correa's initiative and pointed out that "defense policy is closely linked to progress and development". Correa anticipated Sunday during his weekly radio program that the emergency would also include harbors, jetties, bridges and secondary roads in need of repair and maintenance, and underlined that several public works remain unconcluded because of private sector "negligence". Works during the first phase will be financed with 100 million US dollars from the Savings and Contingency Fund which currently holds 600 million US dollars and was originally created to help lighten the burden of foreign debt capital and interest payments. Ecuador has a foreign debt equivalent to 10.2 billion US dollars which represents 25% of GDP and president Correa during his electoral campaign promised priority for social investments over foreign creditors, and did not discard a moratorium, if necessary. "They are not going to tie my hands. We're going to invest those 600 million US dollars en developing the country's productive infrastructure which is what the Ecuadorian people are demanding", highlighted Correa.