PANAMA CITY.- The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP, in Spanish) urged president, Juan Carlos Varela, to announce concrete actions on outstanding issues such as educational modernization and the rescue of the agricultural sector, in his report to parliament on January 2.
Modernizing education and recovering the agricultural sector "are priority issues that have not been courageously resolved by governments," CCIAP said in a public statement.
The employers, which groups more than 1,600 companies from 15 economic sectors, stressed that if these two issues are not attended by public policies in this period, it will "continue to suffer the consequences of decades of kidnapping."
Businessmen, however, recognize that the government is under pressure that 2017 is the last year to come up with a "concrete and time-bound" government action plan before the next election campaign erupts on the big picture.
They recalled that among the promises of Varela, which began its period on July 2014, constitutional and electoral reforms, as well as the system of justice administration, transparency regulations and those governing public procurement continue to be pending.
"All these (reforms) are necessary to lay the foundations for the development of the country and to restore the confidence of society in the political class, which has been shaken by so many shocks, added to the shameful scenario that is being fought, local and internationally, for bribes delivered in Panama" by the construction company Odebrecht, affirmed the business guild.
They also stressed that this year will be the last revision of the minimum wage of the current Government by a commission to be installed in the second quarter of 2017, warning that the new adjustment that comes out should be based on technical matters without "being again a political partisan tool or entail inflationary effects."
The CCIAP complained that a year has passed since the last revision of the minimum wage "and the talks promised to reach agreement on the incorporation of the International Labor Organization formula that have not yet begun."
In terms of social security, the Chamber of Commerce welcomed the call they made last January to address the crisis in the Social Security Fund, "separating pension administration from health programs."
On December 22, the president of the CCIAP, Jorge García, said in an interview with Efe that Varela's legacy must be "structural changes" in Panama that will allow the country to "continue to progress", who lived a "very hard" 2016 and expected a better 2017.
Varela will give a report to the country next January 2 in the act of installing a new ordinary session of the National Assembly of Panama, 2 years and 5 months after having started his administration at the head of the Government. EFE