This Selected Issues paper for Panama reports that the administration is developing a strategy to enhance growth and competitiveness in the Panamanian economy. Corruption is perceived as a widespread phenomenon that has affected both private and public sectors in Panama at various levels of decision making. Even though Panama currently attracts substantial foreign direct investment, corruption may prove an obstacle to a medium-term growth strategy based on foreign investment. One important component of Panama's medium-term strategy is the prospect of a free-trade agreement with the United States.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Economic performance in Central America—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama—and the Dominican Republic improved markedly in the 1990s, but important challenges remain, particularly in reforming the tax system. In a recent IMF Working Paper, “Central American Tax Reform: Trends and Possibilities,” Janet Stotsky and Asegedech WoldeMariam identify steps to strengthen public finances and increase revenue yields.
Ms. Janet Gale Stotsky and Ms. Asegedech WoldeMariam
Central American tax systems are modern in their orientation, though there remains scope for beneficial reform. Value-added taxes are the mainstay of collections, but their performance varies. Income and property taxes remain relatively underused and should apply to higher income taxpayers more comprehensively. Tax reform needs to be mindful of global competition. Continuing improvement in administrative performance is also essential.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Panama’s extensive trade and financial linkages make it vulnerable to adverse external shocks, and this would have a sizable impact on Panama’s real activity. In the absence of monetary policy, macroprudential policy tools could usefully complement microprudential tools. A macroprudential supervisory body must possess the ability or power to collect and analyze firm-, market-, and global-level data to detect risks before they develop into full-blown crises. This study analyzes Panama’s tax structure, performance, and administration in order to identify priority areas for further strengthening