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LatinNews Daily - 02 March 2021

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In brief: Central bank reform bill rejected by Ecuador’s congress

* Ecuador’s national assembly has refused to debate an urgent bill sent by outgoing President Lenín Moreno, which aims to give the central bank (BCE) more independence. Strengthening the BCE by making it more independent is one of the commitments assumed by the Moreno administration after it reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a US$6.5bn Extended Fund Facility financial assistance programme in October 2020. The Moreno government, whose term ends in May, says that its proposed BCE reform will help ensure long-term macroeconomic stability and protect Ecuador’s dollarised economy. But political opponents including Andrés Arauz, the presidential candidate of the leftist Unión por la Esperanza (Unes) coalition, who won the first round of the presidential election and will contest a run-off on 11 April, have criticised the bill is a last-minute attempt by the Moreno administration to extend its influence over the BCE, and have called on congress not to approve it.