Country Listing

Panama Table of Contents


Budget Process

Panama developed an efficient and centralized budgetary system in the mid-1960s. By law, the budget had to balance, so increasing recourse was made to handle some expenditures outside the budget. One such device was the creation of autonomous government agencies. These agencies increased in numbers and importance in the 1960s and 1970s. Their areas of operation included banking, the national electrical system, welfare, tourism, and gambling. Their budgets were excluded from that of the central government, although various transfers were made.

The collection of direct taxes (on income, businesses, and corporations) was relatively efficient in Panama. Direct taxes totalled 7 percent of GDP in 1983. Although this figure is high compared with those of other countries in the region, direct taxes have brought stability to Panama's budget system and avoided the fluctuations that occurred in neighboring countries, which were more dependent on import and sales taxes. In the late 1980s, only a fraction of Panama's revenue was derived from taxes levied on foreign trade.

Data as of December 1987