World Bank Renews its Support to Panama

August 23, 2009
Panama can rely on the World Bank to deal with the effects of the global financial crisis and to implement its immediate and long-term development programs, announced the multilateral institution after a high-level meeting in this Central American country.

World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean Pamela Cox met with Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli and Finance Minister Alberto Vallarino, to evaluate the Bank’s support, including US$150 million immediately available to back the country’s priorities and the new Country Partnership Strategy for 2010-2013. Martinelli was elected into office in May with 60% of the votes and this is his first high-level meeting with World Bank officials.

“Panama is an important partner and we have come to reiterate the Bank’s support to the
government’s agenda and to discuss future cooperation strategies,” said Cox during a press
conference held in Panama City.

Cox indicated that the project portfolio has increased considerably in Panama in the past few years: from three projects in 2007 to eight this year, amounting to almost US$400 million. For this fiscal year–that runs from July1 to June 30 of 2010- the Bank has made available to Panama an additional US$150 million, she said.

Cox emphasized that the World Bank is ready to work on a new country partnership strategy in line with the government’s development plan for the 2009-2014 presidential term. During his electoral campaign, Martinelli promised to transform Panama into a “safer, modern and supportive” nation devoted to improving the living conditions of its population through efficient and accountable governance.

In her meeting with Minister Vallarino, Cox discussed the possibility of focusing World Bank support on urban transport initiatives –one of the government’s priorities— and also on ongoing projects included in the current strategic partnership agreement, such as sustainable tourism and land and credit access, among others.

Cox wrapped up her Panama tour visiting World Bank-funded public schools and community centers in Marcia Canella, CEFACEI San Antonio and CEFACEI Tocumen.

During the fiscal year ended this past June 30, the Bank’s assistance to the region increased
threefold, reaching a volume of US$14 billion.

Like most countries in the region, Panama is feeling the impact of the global financial crisis, which threatens to push back the social advances made in the past few years. However, Latin America and the Caribbean are well positioned to quickly recover from the crisis, especially given an unlikely debacle of the US financial system.

The region is better prepared today than in the past to weather the effects of the global crisis mainly due to the sound economic, fiscal and social policies implemented by its governments.