Dialogue in Panama Yields First Partial Consensus on Food

Single table of the dialogue partially approves the first of eight agenda points, lowering basic food prices. Photo: Ismael Gordon (La Estrella de Panama)

The Government promised to include 72 products with a price cap, marketing margin and subsidies

By Ismael Gordon Guerrel (La Estrella de Panama)

HAVANA TIMES – The protesting organizations and the Executive achieved a partial agreement on Sunday night on the issue of lowering basic food prices.

After several hours of negotiations, the parties agreed on six points and three disagreements were generated, which according to the methodology were incorporated into the document.

During the fourth day of talks, two subcommittees were created to analyze the Government’s proposal to initially lower the cost of the basic foods for the population.

The unions and indigenous communities raised, had demanded a 30% reduction on basic foods and expanding the list to other products using the “healthy basket” publicized by the Ministry of Health, which includes products according to the basic standards of healthy nutrition.

The labor and community organizations inquired about the details of the proposed new products, requesting that it be specified how each of these measures will be applied and they requested fiscal incentives for producers and the elimination of subsidies.

As a result of the negotiations, the Government agreed to include 72 products whose cost reduction for the population would be the mechanisms of: price cap, marketing margin and subsidies. A measure that was clarified, will not affect Panamanian producers.

Added products include chicken, fish, cucumbers, chayote, celery, broccoli, carrots, sweet peppers, yellow onions, cassava, brown sugar, papaya, mangos, seasonal fruits, and others.

This would be the first agreement reached by the dialogue table, being one of the eight priority points. The other seven points are:

• Reduction and freezing of fuel prices

• Discount and supply of medicines in the Social Security Fund and the Ministry of Health, without privatizing

• Complying with the Law of 6% of GDP for education

• Electricity price reduction

• Discussion of the issue of the Social Security Fund

• Corruption and transparency

• Establishing an intersectoral monitoring table.

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