Panama to Slash 2024 Budget by $2 billion

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By LatAm Reports Editor

A statement from the Presidency details that the budgets of the Assembly and the Decentralization Authority were greater than $50 million in each entity.

The National Government reduced the State General Budget by $2,064 million by 2024, when the Cabinet Council approved the adjustment, on Monday, remaining at $30.690 million.

This budget remains higher than this year’s, at $1.8 billion, 6.2%, the Presidency of the Republic reported in a statement.

What institutions were made in their budgets?

According to the Executive’s statement, the National Assembly was reduced by $56.8 million, while the Decentralization Authority was $50 million.

Of these two institutions, the main cuts were expected, due to the political nuance with which their budgets have been managed in the last years, which has received countless complaints.

A ministry with a significant reduction in its budget was Economy and Finance, with $207 million, while the Presidency received an adjustment of $31.8 million.

Other entities that were reduced in the budget are, among others, the Ifarhu ($50 million), Ministry of Public Works ($112.5 million), Unachi ($14.9 million).

On the other hand, Carlos González, Deputy Minister of Economy, explained that the 2024 budget contemplates the construction of the new Cancer Hospital in phase 1, and the Hospital de Metetí, Darién.

On the Oncology, the citizenry showed their discontent, because the tender for the new hospital was cancelled and by 2024 the institute suffered a cut in its budget.

Meanwhile, the Meteti Hospital is part of a group of facilities that IBT stopped building and with which an exit was negotiated to avoid arbitration.

The Columbus hospital, which is part of this group, is already being built by other consortia, while nothing was used from the Bugaba hospital.

The Minister of Economy, Hector Alexander, reported that the increase of the budget to the education sector to 7% of GDP, as established by Law 362 of 2 February 2023, is maintained with the readjustment formulated.

In addition, debt service is growing to $1.1 billion.

Both increases, overall, are greater than the increase in the budget of 2024 ($1,808.1 million) over the amended budget of 2023.

If these increases did not exist, the amended budget of 2024 would be lower than the 2023 budget to date, Minister Alexander said.

The headline emphasized the impact of special laws on the budget. The increase in wages for special laws represents spending on the state’s $2.54 billion over the five-year period from 2020 to 2024, he said.

The Executive should convene extraordinary meetings of the Assembly to approve this budget.

The chairman of the Budget Committee, Benicio Robinson, said that the first budget presented by the Government was not returned, so the Executive will have to withdraw the project, before presenting the new one.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in PanAmerica