Panama: 22.1 Percent of Citizens Are Poor
Panama, Apr 11 (Prensa Latina) Official statistics show today that in March 2016, 885,971 Panamanians were poor, accounting for 22.1 percent of the population, thus reaffirming the inequality in the distribution of wealth, despite a slight improvement in those indicators.
A report from the Ministry of Economy and Finance on 'the achievements in lines and levels of poverty and income distribution' admits that the number of poor slightly decreased by 19,286 people compared to the same month in 2015.
The so-called 'achievements' in reducing that scourge are nothing, considering that 9.9 percent of Panamanians live in conditions of extreme poverty, particularly in rural areas, mainly in indigenous communities of the Ngabe Buglé ethnic group.
The report notes that there is a positive effect by social programs implemented by the incumbent administration, like the economic contribution to people over 65 years of age, the assistance to students from low-income families and the increase in the average salary, among others.
This is happening in a country with medium-high incomes, constant and spectacular growths of its Gross Domestic Product, which averaged 11,850 dollars per inhabitant in 2015, a rate that increases every year. The International Monetary Fund predicts that it will be the highest average in the region in 2018.
Despite those statistics, the country ranks tenth in the world in terms of economic and social inequality, says the report, adding that the decrease in poverty resulted from an increase in family incomes, because over the past 14 years, Panama's economy has grown at an average of 7.1 percent a year, twice that of the region, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.
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