RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) estimates that this year it will disburse between US$400 and US$500 million to Panama, a country to which it has approved more than US41.16 billion for water, infrastructure, health, and research projects.
“I would expect Panama to easily disburse some US$4.4 – 4.5 billion” this year, “between budget support projects, resources for infrastructure projects and resources from the financial sector, which are private”, said CABEI president, Dante Mossi, this Friday (30) in a virtual conference.
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The president of the multinational financial institution, founded in 1960, indicated that “only with the projects approved in 2020, it is expected to impact positively more than 613,000 people through different social programs, the development of five emergency attention initiatives, as well as the generation of jobs.
CABEI disbursed loans to Panama for the public sector for a total of US$400 million in 2020, according to data from the institution, which Panama joined as a member in 2006.
Among the financing approved for Panama is US$4.45 million for the Corredor de las Playas project, which has suffered delays and design changes that have not affected the bank’s willingness to support, which will adjust the amount to what is finally carried out, CABEI said.
In the first half of this year, non-reimbursable technical cooperation totaling US$3.6 million was approved, including one for US$630,000 for feasibility studies for Line 5 of the Panama Metro subway.
CABEI country manager, Carlos Moreno, indicated this Thursday that the resources were approved “under the CABEI-Korea single donor fund” and that with the beginning of the negotiations, “there would be some possibility that Line 5” would begin to be built before the end of this decade, as planned.
“We are very optimistic that this project could be significantly advanced. Obviously, this is a decision of the authorities,” said Moreno, who specified that Line 5 would start in a sector of the capital’s waterfront, cross the banking area and end up connecting with Line 2.
Panama is the only Central American country with a subway system. It has operational lines 1 and 2, in charge of the consortium formed by Odebrecht and FCC, with an overall cost of about US$4.3 billion. In comparison, line 3 is built by the Korean consortium HPH Joint Venture with an investment of at least US$2.8 billion.
In 2016 the Panama Metro reported that 8 lines of the subway system were projected to be operational by 2040.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY AFTER COVID-19
CABEI approved Panama for US$250 million in a Development Policy Operation in Response to the Pandemic and Panama’s Growth Recovery, which has already been fully disbursed.
This operation is intended to provide financial support to the country to address the economic crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic and support the country’s recovery through the “protection of human capital and strengthening of institutions”.
It is intended to foster an inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic recovery, Moreno said. “We have to work to get out of the health crisis and move towards economic reactivation (…) CABEI has been committed to Panama,” said Mossi.
The CABEI president commented that 2020 was “a record year” for the financial institution, as “new credits for more than US$3.6 billion were granted” to the entire region and “close to US$2 billion were disbursed” precisely because of the emergency caused by the pandemic.