The Panamanian government reported on Tuesday that it authorized the temporary reduction of 30% in the price of 170 medicines for regular use in Panama, one of the countries with the most prohibitive costs in medicines in the region, as social sectors have denounced for years and one of the reasons for the massive protests last July.
The high cost of medicines, fuel and food last month caused the largest social protests in decades in Panama, which led the government to set up a dialogue table with unions and unions to agree on measures to lower prices.
The Panamanian president, Laurentino Cortizo, approved on Tuesday the recommendation of a technical table “to apply the 30% discount to 170 medicines” and that “in addition the 20% discount is maintained to retirees”
Cortizo reported that this measure will be valid for six months extendable and will begin to take effect from Monday, August 15.
“Today is a historic day because this is very important news for the country, for all Panamanians because the health unions, the private sector, patient associations and the National Government have reached an important consensus,” said the president.
Cortizo’s government lowered and froze by $3.25 a gallon (3.78 liters) the price of fuel, triggered by the international crisis and exceeding $6, in a failed attempt to appease the protests, which ceased at the end of July after the installation of the so-called “single dialogue table.”
In this single table, installed on July 21, representatives of the Government and the unions and guilds that promoted the protests are negotiating, and it has been agreed to freeze and control the prices of 72 foods in the basic basket, as well as the official commitment to raise the public education budget to 6% of the gross domestic product (GDP).
By Wednesday, the unions and guilds are expected to hold new protests over the alleged breach of the agreements, which has been rejected by the government.