martes, 1 de septiembre de 2009


By Felipe Argote

I just received the report published by the Ministry of Economy and Finance: "Food Basket" of June 2009. The report measures the so-called basic family basket. This is the price an average Panamanian family pays per month to cover their minimum food needs. To do so we have to calculate the minimum requirements for calories and protein for an average person, man, woman and child and establish a daily average level. By a process generally accepted, is estimated at 2.305 calories per person per day on average in Panama (see table 1). Then this requeriment moves to the food bought in the way the Panamanians or other countries people depending of where we are, who lives in the districts of Panama and San Miguelito shared into the following food groups: meat (15.84%), cereals (47.8%), vegetables (4.33%) legums (2.38%), fruits (1.67%), fats (10.58%), milk (5.75%), eggs (0.79%), sugars (6.89%) and miscellaneous (4.71%). Then is added what is spending for cooking gas (po B/0.37r day per person) primarily to retail prices and the conclusion is the total expenditure per person per day.
According to the population census carried out by the Comptroller General's Office has been established that the average Panamanian households consist of 3.8 members. So multiply the sum of these foods at current prices by 3.8 members and then by 7 to obtain the weekly amount. Then multiplied by the number of weeks that has the year (52 weeks) and finally divided by twelve to provide the basic family basket monthly.
Known above we see that in 2002, when it was organized last basket of food, when was considered the components of this basket using as the household survey method, to establish the food consumed by the Panamanians, the basic family basket was $187.30 monthly cost. Currently, the food basket, according to the source cited, is $268.20. This determines that seven years after Panamanians pay $80.90 more for food. This is an increase of 43%. Only early last year (see table 2) the cost was $239.05. This resulted in an increase of 28% over 2002. That same year (2008) ended with the basic basket on $237.85. This means that last year alone the cost of basic food basket increased by 15%.
Currently, according to information released from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the basket is $268.20 resulting in an increase of 5% over last June. Of course if the analysts wants to be nice with Martinelli´s government would say that inflation has grown less than last year instead of affirming that has not changed its sign.

The Panamanians have paid an average of these first six months of the basic basket $270.37 compared with the average $247.93 the first half of last year. That's an increase of 9%. In the last month (see table 5) the basic food basket has risen by 1% on average, although some items such as meat, rose 1.5%, cereals by 4.2% and sugar by 2.3%. The increase would be higher, but as the price of the fruit dropped 2.6%, so the average went a little down. The dairy productos fell in 0.9% and eggs by 0.6% among others, according the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The current government has committed to lower the price of the basic basket of at least 10%. For this to be true they will have to lower prices by about 20% so that we actually see a reduction in the basic basket. This is so because of lowering prices by 10% would not be a decrease, but only a recovery of the levels to which prices were last year. Prices have risen last month, B/2.87 which means a 1% increase in just a month. We hope that is not expected to rise an additional 9%, then reduce the current levels of early mandate to claim fulfillment of a campaign promise.

Source: Ministry of Economy and Finance. Food basic family basket. June 2009.

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