The President of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, highlighted on Thursday the role of the private sector in the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and announced that his Government is preparing a plan that seeks to attract up to $ 5 billion for public associations. -private.
Panama’s economy will contract this year by 2%, according to all forecasts, while analysts have said unemployment could reach 20%, well above the 7.1% it registered before the crisis, in a country where about 50% of the population is employed in the informal sector.
In this context, Cortizo told businessmen gathered in a virtual event that “now we must collaborate to build the ‘A Better Panama’ plan for economic reactivation, and to maintain and generate jobs.”
That plan includes public-private partnership projects that “could attract private sector investments of more than $ 5 billion, necessary to cut the gap in the country’s needs,” said the head of state.
“Now one of our priority tasks is to reactivate micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (Mipyme), and independent workers,” added Cortizo, who recalled the measures already taken in favor of this sector, such as soft loans and tax advantages subject to no layoff of employees.
Panama paralyzed non-essential economic activities from the second week of March -the basic sectors such as food, health and transport remain operational- and decreed on the 25th of that month an indefinite quarantine that restricts the mobility of citizens by gender and two hours a day.
The Executive structured the reopening of the economy on the basis of 6 blocks, the first of which was made up of commercial internet sales and home delivery, technical services and automotive mechanics, and fishing, which began operating on May 13.
The openings of the other blocks, still without a date, will depend on how the pandemic in the country evolves, which registered until Wednesday 287 deaths and 9,977 confirmed infections, the highest figures in Central America, and how much companies adopt strict rules that seek to guarantee the control of COVID-19.
“With the new normality come tasks that we must face together and require consensus and agreement through frank national dialogue,” stressed the President of Panama.
Cortizo participated this Thursday in a virtual event for the inauguration of Jean-Pierre Leignadier Dawson as the new president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), one of the most important in the Central American country.