World Bank moving regional HQ to Panama

Posted on 2021-08-15

The World Bank is moving its headquarters for Central America and the Caribbean from Washington to Panama and expanding staff.
Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, vice president of the bank for Latin America and the Caribbean said that Panama “is a key and strategic player in the region” and highlighted its geographical location and its connectivity with Latin America and the Caribbean, which will allow the bank to have a presence closer to the countries of the region.
The move has already begun with the arrival in the country of Michel Kerf, director of Bank for Central America and the Dominican Republic, and which will involve expanding the office from 10 workers to around 30 in a period between six months and a year.
Jaramillo is on an official visit to Panama, for meetings with President Laurentino Cortizo, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Héctor Alexander, and with representatives of the private sector.
One of the objectives of the visit is to know first-hand the needs of the Government, how the pandemic has been experienced and how the World Bank can help in this phase of recovery, he said. 
The World Bank’s current portfolio in Panama includes four projects for a total of $460 million, focused on improving access to services for indigenous peoples, strengthening social protection and inclusion, as well as supporting the response and recovery from Covid- 19.
“We must rethink the way we do things to have a recovery that is not simply returning to where we were before the pandemic but leading us to a better economy with more productivity, more employment, and more inclusive.”
On the way out of the crisis, he highlighted the importance of vaccination processes so that the populations gain confidence and return to certain normality.
The reopening of schools will also be key and associated with education is the problem of the digital divide.“In the region, only half the population has good access to broadband and internet. The other half have not been able to have access to work from home or to have their children attend classes, he said.
Therefore, it will be necessary to strengthen education programs so that children and young people return to the learning levels they should be at, but also to acquire the digital skills that jobs demand.
The World Bank projects that Panama’s economy will grow 9.9% this year, according to its latest estimates, published in June. It would thus return to positive levels of growth after the 17.9% contraction of last year.
The expected rebound this year will not be enough to return to the production levels of 2019. Although countries have set that goal,“we cannot fool ourselves because the years before the pandemic were not years of good growth economic and good job creation said Jarillo in an interview with La Prensa.
Latin America, he said, was lagging behind other regions of the world. In that sense, he recommends “rethinking the way of doing things to have a recovery that is not simply returning to where we were before the pandemic, but leading us to a better economy, with more productivity, more employment and more inclusive.”
While the fiscal accounts of governments are under pressure and their capacity to make economic stimuli is reduced, he highlighted the role of the private sector in the recovery, as an engine of growth and job creation.