What Has Panama’s Cortizo Achieved in His First Year?

Jaime Jácome, Panama-based partner at Diaz Reus: “Laurentino Cortizo took office last July amid an economic deceleration and a budget deficit of $1 billion, with enormous expectations and promises for change toward a management model based on efficiency, transparency and planning with the aim of addressing poverty. He thus proposed reforming the constitution, in a context of a discredited legislative branch, which failed and demonstrated profound discrepancies not only between the National Assembly and the presidency, but also between the president and his own party. With the pandemic, the government’s first actions generated a lot of confidence, especially its alliance with the scientific sector. At the same time, there were some suspicious contracts, overpricing and favoritism, which have generated a serious credibility crisis. Amid these questions about acts of corruption, which target important government figures, the partial opening of certain economic sectors has increased contagions and deaths, ending with the highly contested departure of the health minister. Undoubtedly, satisfaction with President Cortizo and his administration have been seriously affected. However, with four years to go, there is space to change course and establish the basis to control the health crisis and stimulate the private sector in order to embark on an economic recovery. For this, it will be necessary to reformulate the objectives and resume efforts to reform institutions, create a reliable and efficient justice system and eradicate corruption. In achieving these objectives lies the success or failure of President Cortizo’s administration.”