Panama Prepares 2024 Budget with Significant Increase, The Panamanian Government has unveiled its budget proposal for 2024, amounting to $32.75 billion, which represents an 18.7% surge compared to the estimated budget for 2023 at $27.58 billion. The budget plan is set to be presented by the head of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), Héctor Alexander, to the National Assembly for approval.
Education Sector Receives Significant Allocation, The 2024 budget allocates 7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) to the education sector, adhering to the local law that mandates this percentage. This translates to $5.74 billion, accounting for 78% of the Central Government’s tax revenues. The Ministry of Education will receive $3.54 billion (62% of the sector’s budget), universities will get $829 million (14%), and the Ministry of Culture will receive $100 million (17%), among other organizations.
Social Services and Debt Servicing
Out of the 2024 budget, $14.42 billion (44%) will be directed towards the development of social services, while $5.85 billion (18%) will be allocated to service the public debt. Panama’s public debt stood at $45.90 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2023, according to data from the MEF.
Justice Sector Receives Full Requested Amount
The budget project assigns 100% of the requested amount, $700 million, to the Justice sector to ensure the effectiveness of its programs and activities. This allocation has garnered international praise from entities such as the United States, the European Union (EU), and multilateral organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), CAF Banco de América Latina, and risk rating agencies.
Panama’s Fight against Financial Crimes
With the budget allocation for the Justice sector, programs aimed at combating money laundering, tax evasion, arms trafficking, and drug trafficking will be supported. This move is particularly crucial as Panama has been on the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the EU’s lists for deficiencies in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
Key Economic Figures Yet to Be Revealed
Although the budget proposal outlines the allocations for various sectors, it does not provide details on the projected GDP growth, inflation rate, or fiscal deficit for 2024.