The political, economic and judicial aspects will undoubtedly mark the country’s agenda this year.
The political parties must carry out their primaries to define their electoral offer for 2024 and today, a year and a half after the general elections on May 5, and in the midst of internal struggles in various groups, there is no presidential figure with guarantees to reach to the Palace of the Garzas.
The primaries would begin to clear that picture.
For the political analyst, Edwin Cabrera, Panamanians have to know that the year 2023 is divided into two parts, politically speaking,
On the one hand, there is the pre-electoral year and at the end of it, an electoral year.
“Both things are going to happen this 2023, unlike five years ago, because according to the reforms to the Electoral Code, in 2023 a period of definition of candidates from the parties and others begins, but then in the other half of 2023 the other candidacies are ready,” he said.
Cabrera alleges that the country’s presidency is open to any option.
“No matter how many polls they invent and publish, there is no figure that one can say is a solid candidate, because the stage is too open for anything to happen,” he said.
The also political analyst José Eugenio Stoute considered that the scenario will be very different if the former president Ricardo Martinelli is not disqualified. “If it were, everything changes and therefore we will have to wait for the outcome of said situation.”
He maintained that in the same way, if the president of the Cambio Democrático (CD) party, Rómulo Roux manages to keep the party, he has no doubt that an important alliance of parties will materialize around his candidacy.
“If, on the contrary, the deputy Yanibel Ábrego manages to capture the presidency of the Cambio Democrático party, their alliance will depend on the survival or not of Ricardo Martinelli as a candidate. If she were not, then we should not be surprised that she closes an alliance with the Democratic Revolutionary Party, ”she specified.
Concerning the ruling party, Stoute stated that the fight for the PRD candidacy will be complex and very ruthless, since the Vice President of the Republic, José Gabriel Carrizo would have serious contenders.
“In summary, 2023 will be an electoral year whose results are difficult to predict at the moment,” he emphasized.
If the political scenario is full of dark clouds, in the economic one there is nothing clear for some analysts
The economic aspect does not look good for Panama because of what is happening in the United States, Cabrera analyzed. Even worse when it is unknown whether or not the Government is taking the necessary measures to face this US economic reality that can rebound in the country.
The economist Felipe Argote analyzes the economic panorama from different variables.
There are more than twelve variables that have to do not only with the Gross Domestic Product, on how oil, inflation or unemployment evolves. We must also look at the mining issue, which is decisive for achieving the 5.5% growth that is expected or for the country to enter a recession, he said.
He added that the recovery we have had in this last period has been due to the external sector, such as logistics, the Panama Canal and mining exports. because internal production has not improved at all.
“Those are the factors that have determined the economic recovery, but internally there has been no such thing because informality has grown and unemployment is almost 10%,” he said.
He assured that the internal economy has a loss of demand due to the fact that there is unemployment and the employment that exists is precarious, for which reason he views the economic situation with uncertainty as to what can be expected in 2023.
Argote stated that to counteract this situation, internal demand must be encouraged, creating productive jobs by the State, not competing with private companies, and activating the construction sector with projects such as the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, for example, or making the train to Chiriquí, and in the private area, demand that they comply with the law, and that they do not promote informal jobs. “Whoever wants to create jobs, pay vacations and social security,” he stressed.
For his part, the economist and financier David Saied maintained that his forecast is that in 2023 the economy will continue to grow, above 5%.
“Inflation will remain contained below 2%, but credit interest rates will rise, affecting consumers and businesses,” he warned.
He added that unemployment will drop, but not as much as growth. “The economy has been recovering, there are sectors that still have a bit to go to reach their 2019 level, but there are fewer of them, such as the construction and tourism sectors,” he concluded.
While for the president of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede), Temístocles Rosas, the main concern of this business union that prevents a greater reactivation of the country’s economy, is the lack of permanent job creation.
“This lack of job creation is where we have to focus on strategies so that these jobs can be generated. Right now our composition of the employment that is being generated are jobs of contracts defined by projects, we are not generating permanent jobs, we are also generating a high level of informality ”, he pointed out.
He argued that this informality is not the sustainable entrepreneurship that many talk about, but rather the search for subsistence, for which he considered that this is not the way our economy wants to be seen, for which reason it is necessary to reactivate jointly between the Government and the private company the strategies to generate jobs.
However, Rosas argued that there are many risks in the offing that need to be paid close attention, such as the issue of the Social Security Fund, gray lists and the issue of sovereign risk.
“These are things that can impact us and we have to be eager to find the formulas to continue growing,” he stressed.
To the political and economic scenario during 2023, the judicial one is added. Three high-profile trials will be held this year: the Odebrecht case, in which former presidents Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela were called to trial, the “New Business” case, and Lava Jato, the latter in which the now-defunct firm is involved. of lawyer Mossack and Fonseca.