It is exactly one month this week since the devastating earthquake, which registered 7.8 on the Richter scale. The foreign rescue teams have gone, we are no longer making world-news headlines, and the time for clearing the debris has started.
Some indicative figures: more than 660 deaths, 7,000 families homeless, and an estimated damage of more than 3 billion dollars. Immediately after the quake, the Ecuadorian population showed themselves at their best. Everybody put a lot of effort into this, and instant fund-raising campaigns started everywhere, collecting food, mattresses, drinking water, and other essentials. Schools organised sponsored runs; football clubs donated their ticket sales and banks even waived loans to victims.
The flower trade also played their part. Dozens of nurseries and transport services used their resources to bring aid to the affected areas. And, of course, at FleuraMetz we also took part in organising the much-needed fund-raising events.
Now that the first needs have been tackled, the long road to recovery has begun; this will cost billions and will take years to complete. To make sure everyone contributes to the post-earthquake reconstruction, the government has announced a number of new taxes: VAT will increase from 12% to 14%; everyone who earns more than $1,000 per month has to contribute one or several days of their salary; millionaires have to pay 0.9% of their assets, and companies have to pay additional corporation tax.
Furthermore, import duties, which were temporarily imposed last year (and would only last for one year), have been extended for another year, and the excise on cigarettes, alcohol, and sugary drinks has been increased.
It is noticeable though that, at the same time, the opening hours for all cafés and discos have been extended to late at night, and alcohol will soon be on sale on Sundays, though this has been banned here for many years. That is the kind of shock effect that an earthquake has. So, in the interests of the post-earthquake reconstruction, cheers to all!
Victor van Dijk,
Manager South America