Cortizo defended the automatic extension for 25 more years of the contract between the Panamanian State and PPC, which has generated multiple criticisms.
The President of the Republic of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, gave his report to the nation on Thursday, July 1, on his second year of government management, highlighting the reactivation of about 60% of suspended contracts, the increase in exports and economic growth projections for 2021 made by different international financial entities.
In that sense, he explained that the construction industry shows signs of recovery, registering an increase of 12.1% in gray cement production; the movement of containers grew 5%; exports from the Free Zone 6.2%, melon exports 90.7%, watermelon 19.5%, fish 14.5% and other seafood 51.3%.
Economic growth outlook
The president highlighted that the growth prospects for Panama in 2021 are very positive, indicating that the World Bank estimates a growth of 9.9%.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that Panama will have a growth of 12%; Fitch forecasts that growth will be 9.2%, and The Economist forecasts 11%.
Likewise, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) projects 9% economic growth for Panama in 2021.
He stressed that these economic growth projections from international financial organizations rank Panama as one of the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, although he warned that making these positive economic projections come true "depends on each one of us, on all of us."
Contract with Panama Ports Company
President Cortizo also made reference to and defended the automatic extension for 25 more years of the contract between the Panamanian State and the Panama Ports Company (PPC), which has generated multiple criticisms and questions.
He pointed out that the contract agreed in 1997 was for 25 years, automatically renewable for the same period, that is, 25 years, conditional on the compliance of the company with the obligations of the contract.
In that sense, he said that the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic with its auditors, is by law, the entity responsible for verifying compliance, and it concluded that the clauses of the contract had been complied with.
“Panama will receive $164 million, as well as $7 million minimum in dividends per year for the next 25 years. It is also important to highlight that at the end of the next 25 years, the assets of Panama Ports become the property of the Republic of Panama, ”said the president.
Economic reactivation plan
He stressed that the Government's strategy for economic reactivation is based on five priority areas of action:
The safe, effective and well-planned vaccination strategy.
The reactivation of public infrastructure projects.
Support for small, medium and micro enterprises, important generators of jobs with soft interest loans, guarantee programs to facilitate loans and the Mejorando Mi Negocios program.
The preservation of the capacity of the financial sector and others of the economy, through moratorium measures and now bank flexibility.
Stimulate the attraction of foreign direct investment.
Management in the face of the COVID
On the other hand, Cortizo spoke about the actions carried out by the National Government in the face of the COVID
-19 pandemic, among which he mentioned the increase in hospital capacity, the adaptation of the City of Health and the acquisition of more than 9 million of anticovid vaccines
He pointed out that to date 1 million 534 thousand doses of vaccines
have been applied in Panama and announced the arrival of one million more doses during the month of July.
In addition, he indicated that if all citizens "comply with biosecurity standards, executing the vaccination plan and the vaccines
continue to arrive, we will be able to celebrate the New Year without the need to wear masks in open spaces."
The president also stressed that the "main tool for delivering aid to the population" has been the Panama Solidarity Plan, which has represented "an economic relief for the most vulnerable during the pandemic and has guaranteed social peace."
He pointed out that the New Panama Solidarity Plan, which begins this July 1 until December 31, 2021, will give people the opportunity to help communities and improve their capacities.
He added that people with employment contracts suspended by the pandemic will continue to receive the Digital Voucher, without the need for community service or courses.