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FINANCE

Banking assets increase

Laws have been proposed to make the system more transparent.

Spanish version

Temas:

The international banking center of Panama closed July with assets of $118.6 billion, which represents an increase of 2.7 percent in comparison with the previous year.

The local credit portfolio increased by 10 percent. Banking Superintendent Ricardo Fernández said that the "credit business maintains positive growth."

He said that this is a reflection of growth in construction (14.3 percent), mortgages (13.8 percent), industry (15.1 percent) and agricultural (9.9 percent).

The report also reflects a growth in total deposits, which increased 1.9 percent to $84.7 billion. The superintendent said that the growth in deposits is due to confidence in the local banking sector.

Deposits have continued to grow despite the international cases that have affected the reputation of Panama, such as the release of Mossack Fonseca files and the placement of companies related to the Waked family on a sanctions list by the U.S. government.

These cases have prompted a discussion of initiatives that would make the industry more transparent.

"Strengthening the framework of transparency in our financial system is a step in the right direction and sends a signal to the market and different regulators about the commitment and the seriousness with which the banking system manages its risks," Fernández said at the inauguration of the first Latin American Summit of Financial Risk, which is held in Panama City.

On Sept. 20, the National Assembly approved on third debate the law that guarantees the intergovernmental agreement between Panama and the United States to exchanging banking information.

The executive also presented to the Assembly a project that would change reporting requirements for offshore companies that have been suggested by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Some say, however, that these initiatives will result in a loss of competitiveness of the financial platform and the country's legal services.

Fernandez said the latest statistics of the banking sector refute this hypothesis.

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