The Government of Panama announced on Monday that it managed 1,300 million dollars with multilateral organizations to support micro and small businesses, agriculture and promote measures to preserve jobs during the “catastrophe” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds come from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), an entity of the World Bank (WB), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
“I am pleased to announce to the country that we have been managing $ 300 million with the IDB to finance micro and small businesses, as well as inject resources into agricultural production to ensure our production chain,” Panamanian President Laurentino reported in a message on Twitter. Cortizo.
Likewise, added Cortizo, “we have managed to mobilize 500 million dollars from the IMF, along with 500 million dollars from @MIGA (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Organizations) to maintain the greatest number of jobs.”
The Panamanian Government has already placed $ 2.5 billion in debt bonds in international markets, and is reprogramming the budget to access another $ 2 billion in order to support the emergency plans that this country requires, where almost 50% of the labor force is in the informal sector and unemployment stood at 7.1% before the crisis.
Cash transfer and food distribution programs have already been launched in the poorest sectors, a temporary reduction in the cost of energy has been approved and an agreement has been reached with the bank for a three-month moratorium on auto, home and home loans. credit cards, among others.
“We started the reconstruction right away, understanding that we are facing a catastrophe,” said the Minister Counselor, José Alejandro Rojas, on Monday, expressing that the Government is moving “with a cold head” to guarantee that Panama continues to have “the most dynamic economy” in the region.
Panama is a service economy with great dependence on the external sector, and in this context organizations such as the World Bank expect that the gross domestic product (GDP) will register a negative growth of 2% this year.
But the multilateral calculates that there will be a rebound in 2021, when Panamanian GDP will expand by 4.2%, even above the 3% that grew in 2019 and was the lowest rate in a decade.
In Panama, which already registers 94 deaths and 3,472 confirmed infections of the new coronavirus, non-essential businesses and industries have been closed since mid-March, and since March 25, an indefinite total quarantine has been in force with some exceptions.
Thus, only the basic sectors such as health, food, logistics, security, communications remain active, and the Executive promotes teleworking: “more than 164 processes have been digitized” and the aim is “for the economy to continue to move digitally from the best possible way, “Rojas said Monday.