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Booming Panama Lags In Fight Against Poverty

THE DECLINE in poverty in Latin America has stagnated in the last three years and remains a structural phenomenon affecting 28 % of the 623.4 million says a UN report.
In “Social Panorama of Latin America 2014″, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reports that , 167 million people live on less than $4 a day.
Extreme poverty, meanwhile, remained at 12%in 2014, but with a slight increase in the total number of people in this situation,” says ECLAC.

 In Panama in the last decade the average annual economic growth was around 8%, but Panama does not escape this reality. ECLAC says 896,448 Panamanians, or 23.2% of the population is poor. The index fell nearly seven percentage points I from 2006 (29.9%) to 2013 -the lastregistration-.
The World Bank (WB) says poverty inPanama in 2006 was 38.3% and in 2013 fell to25.8% reports La Prensa,however, inequality remains strong and there are also significant differences in the levels of poverty in urban and rural areas.

Anabela Abreu, World Bank representative for Panama says. “In addition there is the challenge of poverty in indigenous territories. For example, the Ngäbe Buglé recorded a poverty rate of 93%,while the extreme poverty rate is 80%.”
A reduction of poverty in recent years have been helped by economic growth and allocation of subsidies to the most vulnerable population.
Abreu argues that the Opportunities program has had a positive impact as it has driven an increase of 10.2 percentage points of enrollment of children between 12 and 15 living in rural areas.
But to bet on this type of program to solve the problem can be a double-edged sword.
For the sociologist Mario Gandásegui, subsidies are only a palliative measure and do not contribute to reducing poverty in the country. He warns that “if tomorrow one of these programs, was suspended, 100,000 people would fall under the poverty line. That is not a policy, it is simply a program “.
Excluding the increase granted to the Universal Fellowship program and 120 to 65, 2014, the State budgeted almost $ 1.6billion in grants.
It has been noted that in recent times poverty in various countries seems to decrease in quantitative terms. “In practice it does not ” says economist Maribela Gordon, With the economic growth recorded in recent years Panama “should not have a poverty level higher than 10%.” I would even say there should not be any poverty” she told La Prensa

“Public policy is wrong, because it is not intended to address the causes of poverty. In the best case, some effects of poverty are addressed, but not the cause, “she dded.
Juan Jované economist and former director of the Social Security Fund, stresses that with the modern way of measuring this phenomenon “It is understood that poverty is multifaceted.”
The World Bank recognizes advances in Panama to reduce poverty and increase the middle class compares positively with the rest of the region.
“ECLAC  is still using the income approach, and that does not measure things that are important. …The lines of income are no longer adequate to measure poverty. The most suitable are those labeled with various indicators where the person has access and where not. The income would be only one element ” Jovane explains.
Both economists agree that to solve the problem of poverty would be to address concrete and related issues, such as wage levels; distribution of wealth, food security and sovereignty; health and education.
Jované says that a person can have a relatively good income, but the fact of not having access to medicines, health and education are also signs of poverty: “The multi dimensional view of poverty lets you know where you have to act, and that is not being done. “.
A national development plan that enhances productivity and creates sustainable jobs, as proposed by Gandásegui, would help eliminate the deadly statistic of two people per week starving to death with the second biggest gap between the rich and poor in Latin America.

Courtesy of NewsroomPanama