LatinNews Daily - 02 January 2024

In brief: Panama approves 2024 budget

*Panama’s 71-member unicameral legislature has approved the state budget for 2024 with 44 votes in favour, 16 against and two abstentions. The budget is for US$30.69bn, down from the government’s initial proposal of US$32.75bn, a reduction which the economy & finance ministry (MEF) says takes into account the “events of last October and November which had a negative effect on economic growth”. This is a reference to the disruption caused by the national protests over the new contract for the major copper mine Cobre Panamá, which is owned by Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals (FQM), which the supreme court ultimately struck down at the end of November. According to the MEF, the reduction will be distributed across central government (which sees a reduction of US$780.6m), decentralised entities (US$362.0m), public companies (US$149.5m), and financial intermediaries (US$772.0m). The 2024 budget contemplates physical investment of US$6.55bn of which US$3.80bn is earmarked for central government, US$1.80bn for decentralised entities and US$900m for public companies. According to the MEF, the fiscal deficit for 2024 is estimated to come in at 2% of GDP. Panama’s deputy economy minister, Carlos González, said that projected revenue for 2024 would not be affected by the closure of the mine which contributes some 5% of Panama’s GDP and accounts for some 75% of the country’s exports.

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