The President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, delivered from the National Assembly the report to the country on his management during the last 6 months of 2022, in which he stressed that his administration will deliver the City of Health at the end of this year and listed at least 200 government projects in the last semester, which include finished projects, in progress, with orders to proceed and those tendered throughout the country.
In his Report to the Nation, President Cortizo Cohen also highlighted the studies of the Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL) that reveal the decrease in poverty and extreme poverty indices, the economic recovery and the reduction of unemployment, as well as pointed out a drop in the homicide rate, among others.
Health, which included points such as the pandemic, the cost of medicines and the Old Age, Disability and Death Program (IVM) of the Social Security Fund (CSS), was the first aspect addressed by the president in his
report before the deputies, in the company of the vice-president and minister of the Presidency, José Gabriel Carrizo, ministers, vice-ministers of State and his government team.
He announced that the works of the City of Health, a hospital center of vital importance for the population, and which have been recovered by his administration, are 90% complete and will be delivered by the end of 2023.
He indicated that 3,000 workers work 24/7 to finish the construction and equipment works of the 43 operating rooms, 176 intensive care units, 81 semi-intensive units, 275 medical offices and hospitalization rooms with availability of 957 beds.
Also in terms of health, he pointed out that shortages and the high cost of medicines were elevated to a State issue with the creation of the National Medicines Commission.
He mentioned that said Commission has taken temporary measures to gradually improve access to medicines for the population, such as the one in force since August 2022, which establishes a 30% reduction in the price of 170 medicines.
On the recommendation of the Commission, the president recalled that he repealed Decree 95 of 2019 to allow the opening of the drug market to new commercial agents, in order to reduce the cost of basic drugs.
Regarding the pandemic, he highlighted that, of the 42 months that have elapsed since the administration, 34 have been in a pandemic, and that during the last 100 years no other administration has faced a challenge as complex and colossal as a pandemic, in addition to two hurricanes and the consequences of the war in Ukraine.
Regarding the Dialogue Table for the CSS, Cortizo Cohen pointed out that the Government hopes that viable proposals will emerge from this important forum to strengthen the IVM Program and that the responses that come out of the Table do not jeopardize the current progress of the economic recovery.
Poverty decreases, says ECLAC
The ruler explained that his administration stopped receiving B/.4,477 million, but despite this, he has maintained the deliveries of economic support to the population for 42 months to do social justice and that no one is left behind.
Among these actions aimed at reducing poverty and inequality, the president pointed out that he has led 122 Community Work Tours that have included 579 actions, he also mentioned the institutionalization of the fight against poverty and inequality through Law 297 of 2022 , which established the national strategy of the Beehive Plan, which, he recommended, “must last over time.”
He also highlighted the ECLAC report that reveals that in Panama poverty fell from 18.5% in 2014 to 15.6%, in addition to the reduction of extreme poverty from 8% in 2014 to 5.7% in 2021.
Justice and citizen security
Regarding the administration of justice, he specified that his administration has complied with the appointment of 6 of 9 magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice through a selection process unprecedented in the country’s history.
He said that his administration allocated 100% of the budget requested by the Judicial Branch by 2023, providing it with resources and financial autonomy.
In citizen security, he specified that in 2022 a total of 128.6 tons of drugs were seized, setting another historical record in the fight against drugs. On this issue, he pointed out that 52 fewer intentional homicides were registered than in 2021, which represents a rate of 10.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the lowest in recent years.
In his report, the president addressed an issue “of great importance” for the country, such as the new contract with Minera Panama.
In this sense, he reiterated that, in January 2022, the National Government reached an agreement with the company Minera Panamá. “Based on that agreement, the environmental, labor and economic aspects agreed in January 2022 should be reflected in a contract. Said contract must guarantee Panama, among other rights, a minimum contribution of B/.375 million,” he said.
“The position of our Government is firm, in the sense of enforcing what is established in the Political Constitution that concessions for the exploitation of the soil and subsoil (…) be inspired by social welfare and public interest.”
He announced that, at this time, the Government of Panama has presented the company with a final contract text that establishes a fair relationship for both parties.
Works and budget execution of 94%
President Cortizo Cohen listed in his report some of the projects for the last semester of 2022, which include completed works, in progress, with orders to proceed and those that have already been tendered in all the provinces and the Ngäbe-Buglé, Kuna Yala and Emberá Woounan (see attached pictures).
He mentioned that these 200 works, which do not include all those developed by the Government, contribute to employment and the economic recovery of the country.
He pointed out that the budget execution of the Central Government for the year 2022 was 94%, which is why it continues to be one of the most efficient, despite the harsh consequences of the pandemic.
Economic recovery and low unemployment
In his report, the president supported with documents figures that demonstrate the economic recovery of the country, such as those of ECLAC, which placed Panama’s economic growth at 8.4% in 2022, while the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate that this growth will not be less than 9%, among the highest in the region.
Regarding economic growth, he said that it has had an impact on the decrease in unemployment which, by September 2020, stood at 18.5% and by August 2022, at 9.9%.
In the year 2022, the main engines of economic growth were trade, construction, transportation, and communications. He said that it is expected that in 2023 the tourism sector will recover the levels of activity it had prior to the pandemic.
Finally, President Cortizo Cohen asked Panamanians, social organizations, unions, businessmen, producers, organized workers and churches to continue joining forces to put Panama back on its feet, after this unprecedented pandemic that brought the world to its knees.