STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
IMMIGRATION to Spain has fallen ‘drastically' due to the economic crisis and the voluntary return of foreigners to their homeland has increased with the implementation of the programme for assisted return, a minister said yesterday.

Labour and Immigration Minister Valeriano Gomez made his remarks after analysing with Ecuador's envoy to Spain, Galo Chiriboga, the new Bilateral Agreement on Social Security that the two countries will sign next week in Quito.

Gomez referred to the current Voluntary Return Programme for foreigners who find themselves unemployed in Spain and want to return to their countries, and he said that Spain is beginning to detect signs of a new economic cycle and that the programme was conceived as one more instrument to fight the recession and reduce unemployment.

He said that in Spain the capacity to welcome foreigners has been reduced and that returns, both of foreign workers and their families, have been in “greater numbers” than is shown by the assisted return programme.

GLOBAL SLUMP
Before the global slump, immigrants constituted nearly 10 percent of Spain's roughly 46 million residents.
Gomez said the bilateral pact between Spain and Ecuador “is not conceived for the return” of foreigners and he emphasised among its new elements that it permits the workers of both countries' firms greater mobility.

This will facilitate bilateral trade and help avoid double taxation.
The agreement replaces the one signed in 1974 and subjects workers and pensioners to the Social Security legislation of one or both countries, along with the members of their families and beneficiaries.

The accord also includes equal treatment of workers, and assorted other provisions.
The Spanish minister noted the importance of the pact given that in Spain there are 395'069 Ecuadorian citizens, of whom 171'043 benefit from Social Security.

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