Panama Table of Contents
Panama's financial stability and international credit standing were determined not by monetary policy, but principally by fiscal policy and balance of payments. Fiscal policy was thus more important for Panama than for most other countries, and as a result, public-sector deficits were especially problematic for the government.
From 1971 through 1975, the annual average for the consolidated public-sector deficit was 6.5 percent of GDP. That figure nearly doubled to 12.9 percent between 1976 and 1980, at the height of government spending on infrastructure and ambitious social programs. In the 1980s, the figure has declined, from 10.8 percent in 1982 to 5.8 percent in 1984 (see table 14, Appendix A). The 1982 figure represented an aberration, brought about by the political uncertainty and lack of fiscal restraint following Torrijos's death. Most impressively, the deficit was reduced to 2.5 percent of GDP in 1985, a figure even lower than the 3.5 percent targeted by the IMF. The reduction was brought about by increased revenues, reduced expenditures, and streamlined administration.
Data as of December 1987