The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a project to increase the efficiency of Panama’s social protection system and improve the income generation capacity of the poor and vulnerable. The project seeks to encourage productive inclusion and will benefit more than 600,000 Panamanians living in poverty and extreme poverty in the country’s provinces and indigenous areas.
The “Strengthening Social Protection and Inclusion Systems” project will be financed via a US$75 million loan from the World Bank and will be implemented by the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES, in Spanish) over a period of seven years.
“This World Bank-financed project provides key support to the Government of Panama’s 2015-2019 Strategic Plan, whose objectives are to improve living conditions and the capacities of the Panamanian population to achieve a fairer and more equitable society,” said Dulcidio de la Guardia, Panama’s Minister of Economy and Finance.
Some of the project’s objectives include improving the efficiency, coordination, transparency and monitoring capacity of MIDES’ social protection programs, including the creation of a single registry of people living in poverty or vulnerability, as well as improving these programs’ eligibility criteria, among others. The project will also strengthen MIDES’ territorial coverage in order to provide better direct services to families and reinforce the role of social workers, promoters and provincial and regional coordinators.
“The implementation of the Social Protection and Inclusion System in Panama will make a significant contribution to the perfection of the real and concrete objective behind the creation of the conditional cash transfers. Only in this way will we achieve true equity and efficiency in the use of resources for the neediest,” said Alcibiades Vasquez, Panama’s MIDES Minister.
MIDES’s social protection programs will be complemented with investments aimed at providing training and labor intermediation services for eligible persons identified in the single registry. In coordination with the National Professional and Human Capital Training Institute (INADEH, in Spanish) and the Ministry of Labor and Labor Development (MITRADEL, in Spanish), the project will encourage the productive inclusion of people living in poverty and vulnerability, providing them with more opportunities to generate and increase their income.
“Panama has achieved significant progress in terms of poverty reduction and this project will give new impetus to its efforts to reduce territorial inequalities, through investments in labor skills of people living in poor areas of the provinces and indigenous areas,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Representative in Panama.
Project activities are aligned with the Government’s and MIDES’ objectives of increasing the efficiency of social transfers and strengthening their role as vehicles to climb out of poverty. The project also complements the support MIDES receives from other development partners.
The US$75 million loan has a 17-year maturity period, including a 6-year grace period.