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IDB approves $300 million for the social and logistics sectors in Panama

The resources will improve the transparency, equity and efficiency of social protection programs and will improve the competitiveness of the country's logistics sector

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved $300 million in loans to address two important areas for the development of Panamá: reduce social inequalities, with a special focus on extremely poor families, and strengthen the institutions and regulatory framework of the nation's freight logistics system. The two areas are part of the Government’s strategic plan for 2015-2019 and will help to generate inclusive growth and to improve the country's competitiveness.

Social protection

The social protection program will cost $150 million and seeks to increase the transparency, efficiency and coverage of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programs (CCTP) for poor and extremely poor families. This will be achieved by improving the targeting of beneficiaries, increasing the co-responsibilities of recipients on health and education, and implementing an integrated model for efficient, and high quality early childhood care.

Other areas to be addressed include the creation of a Single Registry of Beneficiaries and a single platform for payments linked to government information systems of the CCTP, and strengthening the institutional structures of the Social Development Ministry.

The program is aimed at helping to reduce poverty in the country, improve the efficiency of social spending and ensure that social services offered by the government meet the needs of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

Logistics

The freight logistics sector is of strategic importance for Panama because of its economic impact and its role as a generator of jobs and hard currency. The $150 million program approved by the IDB will strengthen areas essential to the optimal functioning of the sector, such as the legal, institutional and operational frameworks and the process of commercial facilitation, inter-institutional planning, and strengthening of human resources. It also includes efforts to improve the connectivity of transportation and logistical services for the agricultural sector.

Among the measures supported by the program are the creation of a Secretariat for Competitiveness and Logistics, the formulation of a Master Logistics Plan, the simplification of customs procedures, the creation of a one-stop seaport office, improvements in the one-stop office for foreign trade and the formulation of a strategy to expand the availability of technicians in the area of logistics.

These actions will permit improvements in the planning of investments in the Panama Canal area and in the rest of the country, and pave the way for increased foreign investment in the logistics sector and support for the development of value-added logistics services.

The program will improve the integration of Panama into international production chains, contributing to its consolidation as a regional center for freight logistics and transportation services and strengthening the country's competitiveness in the medium term.

Both loans are for 15 years, with a one-year grace period and an interest rate based on LIBOR.