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Ecuador hikes taxes to pay for post-quake reconstruction

Published:Friday | April 22, 2016 | 4:00 AM
Soldiers tell a man where he can line up for free food and water from the government, days after the earthquake in Manta, Ecuador, yesterday.

QUITO (AP):

President Rafael Correa said Ecuador's worst earthquake in decades caused billions of dollars of damage and he is raising sales taxes and putting a one-time levy on millionaires to help pay for reconstruction.

The damage from the 7.8-magnitude quake adds to already heavy economic hardships being felt in this OPEC nation triggered by the collapse in world oil prices. Even before the quake, Ecuador was bracing for a bout of austerity, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting the economy would shrink 4.5 per cent this year.

In a televised address on Wednesday night, Correa warned the nation of a long and costly post-quake recovery and said the economic pain shouldn't fall only on hard-hit communities along the coast.

"I know we're at the most difficult stage right now, but it's just the beginning," he said.