The first thing that strikes you as you enter into Panama City are the high rises. The many luxurious towers seem to populate the city like ornaments. Their modernism and elegance complemented by the tropical climate and vegetation gives a feeling you are entering a city that expects beauty.
The country’s fluid state is reflected best in the capital, Panama City. The numbers don’t lie regarding economic expansion, however the situation on the city streets is not as simple. There is not just one Panama City that is expanding upward and outward, there are two cities in the midst of one. The first city is populated with many foreigners that are generally responsible for driving these growth numbers (mainly in the real estate market). The second city holds the heart and history of Panama City. The second city is made up mostly of locals who have generations of family in the area and comprise almost all the small business segment of the economy.
It is the question that has been ringing in my head every day I have been in this beautiful country; can the second city adapt to the aggressive amount of money and change the first city is driving? Will they be able to change and provide the fast and flexible infrastructure to bear-up under this growth? Will they take their window of opportunity or will the be pushed out the window? Upon his visit to Panama, the managing director of the IMF commented on what needs to happen in Panama in order to create sustainable, positive growth,
“I welcomed the government’s long-term economic and social strategy, which aims at expanding economic opportunities and reducing growth bottlenecks. I stressed that broad-based reforms that boost productivity provide the strongest assurance that the benefits of the current prosperity will be widely shared by the population, and contribute to reducing poverty and inequality.” (Dominic Strauss-Khan, IMF)
How can we support Panama to reduce growth bottlenecks and improve productivity even as our investment multiplies…?