The Panamanian Business Executives Association warns that a change of cours e and redefined strategy to confront the pandemic are urgently needed.
The nation’s business executives warn…
The country’s increase in infections demonstrates an exhausted health strategy that must be quickly re-evaluated in light of the new conditions: saturation of hospitals, exhaustion of medical and health care personnel, complaints about the lack of supplies and the increasing number of persons without income.
The new control regulations that the authorities establish will be effective to the extent that they are based on the traceability of cases, social assistance to vulnerable infected people, and that they permit the citizenry to have access to economic income in a secure manner. Every job lost in the business sector increases exponentially6 in the informal sector, complicating even more the enforcement of controls to protect the population.
Since the crisis began, the business sector has implemented labor measures to secure income for its workers during the first weeks and months of suspension of economic activity; social humanitarian aid programs, donations of supplies and medical equipment; implementation of sanitary protocols and investment in equipment for monitoring and prevention in work areas; as well as studies and preparation of proposals for economic reactivation.
Unfortunately, the capacity to sustain these actions has been exhausted due to the lack of liquidity as a result of the 4-month stoppage.
Therefore, APEDE, on behalf of its members and as a civil society organization, calls upon the national government to carry out actions, without further delay, that allow the business sector to collaborate with contingency measures in the face of the crisis:
• Payment of debts that it has with providers since before the crisis.
• Payment of debts to providers of medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, food industry, electricity sector, hotels and others, who have been providing their services during the crisis. Their contribution is unsustainable if the authority does not honor the agreed commitments immediately.
• The gradual, safe and comprehensive reactivation by regions or zones.
• The gradual reopening of construction as an essential low-risk industry.
• The immediate, concrete and transparent implementation of financial assistance announced by the government.
• Temporary hiring plans by the state of personnel on work suspension to contribute to government programs of public attention.
• Temporary flexibility of labor regulations that allows the maintenance of as many jobs as possible.
• Implementation of a safe urban mobility strategy through public transport.
At APEDE we see with great concern how the voices of each sector, in the face of despair, begin to rise, crying out for solutions that threaten the social stability of our country.
It is urgent that the national government convene an emergency meeting with experts in each field, to rethink the strategy, pursuant to a single instruction: safeguard life and ensure the well-being of all citizens of our country.
We must reconcile proposals and adjust actions and plans to the realities of each region of Panama It is impossible to continue with centralized provisions or that have worked in the first world when the levels of inequality are so different.
These actions must be accompanied by an education campaign among the population so that we assume our individual responsibility in self-care; transparency and ethics in the implementation of the plans; and permanent communication of the results of the actions.
It is also key to activate the national dialogue for a social pact of the country with all the living forces of Panama: the government sector, the employer sector, the labor sector and organized civil society to build a new Panama adapted to the new reality. APEDE reiterates its commitment to the country to together overcome this crisis.
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