Bernal, Disturbing numbers

Informal 1
One of the things that is not well enumerated in the Panamanian economy is the state of its informal sector. The bean counters like to pretend that it, and those who work in it, don’t count – whenever they can get away with that. Archive photo by Eric Jackson. 

Raw reality smashes people in the face with disturbing numbers

by Miguel Antonio Bernal V.

The end of the year is approaching and national problems are increasing, far from diminishing. The country resembles a drifting ship that is leaking, in addition to not having a captain and crew with the ability to successfully bring it to a port.

During the last three years, government propaganda hasn’t ceased to misinform about the real situation of our country at all levels. Government authoritarianism, with its mix of populism and demagogy, has been disrupting the fragile existing institutions and weakening the pillars and functioning of the worn-out state institutions.

These disquieting figures – not to say disturbing – will also bring a lot of social unrest. For now, let’s list some of them:

  • Public debt amounted to $43.175.31 million (as of June 30, 2022)
  • Pending debt interest payments for December added up to $597.73 million ($467.79 million for foreign debt interest payment and $129.94 million for national debt interest payment).
  • The interest on the debt between January and September of this year is estimated at $1.3698 billion, and more than $3.5 billion in 2024 and 2026. (see La Prensa, December 2, 2022)
  • The general budget of the government for 2023 reaches the sum of $27.579 billion (Law 336 of November 14, 2022).
  • The projected budget deficit is $2.184 billion.
  • 1.1 million Panamanians live in poverty, while half a million live in extreme poverty, out of a population estimated at 4.3 million (see Annual Report on Poverty and Extreme Poverty-Panama).
    353,412 Panamanians earn less than $600 per month, while 166,475 earn $1,500 per month. (National Institute of Statistics and Census)
  • According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) between August 2012 and April 2022, the population of productive age (over 15 years), grew by 632,940 people. However, today there are 59,252 fewer formal private salaried workers, but 249,633 more informal ones. (René Quevedo in La Prensa Financial Tuesday, November 29, 2022).
informal 2
The official numbers don’t list failing informal businesses, but you can see them all around.
Archive photo by Eric Jackson.


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