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Panama Sees Opposition Grow To Tax Reform

Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, New York

07 December 2000


The Panama News has said that although Panama has vowed to change its taxation regime in order to meet the requirements of international financial institutions, notably the OECD, it appears that tax reform is unlikely to get past the Legislative Assembly. Government entities at all levels have also called for a radical overhaul of Panamanian taxes, but stopping them in their tracks are those unwilling to give up the benefits that are threatened by changes in the tax system.

On both sides of the political divide, wealthy people who pay relatively low taxes in Panama are fighting any reforms that might change that, says the Panama News. From the PRD side, former Finance and Economy Minister Guillermo Chapman argued on national television that the country needs to collect the revenue owed to the government under the present laws, instead of revising the tax structure.Chapman, along with the banking sector, is also very much against a proposal to impose a half-percent tax on assets.

For its part, the publication El Panama America argued in a front-page editorial that the creation of new taxes, or increases in existing ones, would slow the economy just when it needs a stimulus.

Panama's current Finance and Economy Minister Norberto Delgado would probably disagree. He was reported recently as saying that a sea change has occurred in the country's economy, that it is gradually turning around, and therefore the country is well-prepared for an overhaul of its taxes.

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