01/07/2013 - President Ricardo Martinelli told the plenary of the National Assembly, at the beginning of the fifth ordinary session, that Panama now has more wealth that is better distributed.
Martinelli said that while he only has a year left in his term,he thinks the country is on a path which meets his campaign promises.
He said the country's economic growth continues to amaze the other countries of the region. He added that, after a period of stagnation, he was able to achieved progress in the country during his term.
Martinelli, in contrast to his speeches of previous years which were marked by confrontation, called for unity among the different sectors of the population.
He said that this is needed to navigate a path to achieve the targets he has promised.
On the other hand, the president promised to facilitate a discussion on possible improvements during this election period.
He noted that Panama was recently recognized by the UN for reducing hunger and malnutrition, which was a reflection of his social programs.
He emphasize that his government has reduced the numbers of child labor and poverty, and also started the "Guardian Angel" program to help people with disabilities.
He also emphasized achievements in education and recalled the improvements in access to the internet in the country. He also noted the investments in the health sector of more than $2.6 billion, which includes "his greatest legacy," the hospital city project.
However, he said that there are not sufficient specialists and health personnel to work in the new medical centers and called on the Assembly to pass the law easing the restrictions on the hiring of foreign doctors.
Martinelli said that, from December, Panama will have the highest minimum wage in the region.
However, he acknowledged that there are many challenges such as the high cost of living, but he emphasized that it is not only a local problem, but a global one.
Finally, he noted that the Metro will go into operation this year and that he will make an effort to bid line three of the project, which will serve La Chorrera and Arraijan, next year.
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