Many Panamanians are working overtime at their kitchen table trying to make ends meet. You can stretch your budget so much, after that it will burst like an over-stretched rubber band. That’s when the social situation gets nasty, like in Haiti when the Prime Minister was toppled after wide spread violent urban riots.
The cost of gasoline is going straight to the roof, and there are no signs it will stop its steep upward course in the short term. I just read in the papers, that crude oil had reached the unprecedented price of $135.00 per barrel. London Brent crude soared to an all-time high of $135.14 and benchmark New York light sweet crude hit an all-time peak of 135.09 dollars earlier today. I’m sure many homes in Panama are seriously thinking of switching to smaller three-cylinder automobiles or even to Chinese or Korean scooters.
This morning, the posted prices for gasoline at the Esso service station a few blocks from my house were:
- 95 Octane Gasoline: $4.28
- 91 Octane Gasoline: $4.11
- Light Diesel Oil: $4.12
This is how newspaper, La Prensa covered the news regarding the price escalation in Panama:
Panama’s wholesale price index (WPI) increased 17.1 percent at the close of March 2008 as compared to the same month last year due to rising prices in the import, industrial and agricultural sectors. Imports rose 25.3 percent, industrial materials 9.7 percent, and agricultural goods 4.6 percent, according to a report from the General Comptroller’s Office (Contraloría General de la República). The increase from December 2007 to March 2008 was 5.5 percent, with increases in the import and industrial sector of 7.4 percent and 4.2 percent respectively. Prices in the agricultural sector decreased 0.9 percent during the same period.Business spokesman, José Javier Rivera, said that international prices have increased since some countries have cut back on their exports, increasing speculation. “It’s a complicated scenario that calls up the need to offer some kind of support to the business sector, the primary and secondary sectors especially,” he said. “Countries like Japan, Brazil and the U.S. itself have announced that they will support the business sector,” Rivera commented.
Reading the daily newspapers, checking the news on the Internet or watching them over the television is like viewing a horror movie.