Isthmian Update

Generalized blackout was caused by sugarcane burning
Following nearly four hours without power in the city and various provinces of the country, the Electricity Transmission Company, SA (Etesa) reported that blackout of last Monday afternoon was caused by a failure of two power transmission lines in the area of Llano Sanchez, Coclé province. Fernando Marciscano, CEO of Etesa, explained that the failure was caused by the burning of sugar cane at the Santa Rosa mill. The outage lasted from 2:47 p.m., until 6:38 p.m., disabling traffic lights causing vehicular congestion.

Banking system dominated  by five banks
Five banks account for 64% of the profits out of the 48 financial entities in the banking system of Panama. In 2012, BAC, Banco General, the National Bank, HSBC and Bladex made $789 million combined. According to a survey conducted by the daily La Estrella, the big five remain steady in the utilities and the assets markets, while medium and small banks have gained substantial ground.

Cost to repair Colón roads could reach $80 million
The rehabilitation of the roads, highways and bridges that succumbed to rains last November in Colón and the western sector of the capital city will not cost $40 million to repair as originally announced by the Minister of Public Works (MOP), Jaime Ford. Recently, during the inspection and authorization of a temporary lane for light vehicles and school buses at the El Cebo curve, on the Boyd Roosevelt Highway (commonly called Trasismica or the TransIsthmian), Ford reported that the repair of all damaged roads following the natural disaster could go as high as $80 million.

Domestic stock debt tripled in two years
Following a suggestion by multilateral institutions and risk rating agencies, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) has opted in recent years to make local emissions debt. As a result of this policy, in the past two years the stock of domestic debt has tripled, from almost $1.2 billion at the end of 2011 to nearly $3.5 billion last year.

Colombian new tariff to affect Colón Free Zone
A new tariff approved by Colombia will affect re-exports of finished textiles, like clothing, and footwear from the Colón Free Zone (CFZ). The new scheme aims to protect the Colombian textile and footwear industry, but at the same time delivers another blow to the commercial activities of the CFZ, an economic area that is still evaluating the effects of the devaluation of Venezuela’s currency, the Bolivar, by 32%. The tariff hike will come into effect on March 1 and will last one year.

Martinelli is unaware of electoral ethics pact
Around a week prior to the signing of an electoral ethics agreement, an effort driven forward by the Catholic Church, president Ricardo Martinelli said he does not know about the contents of the document. “I am dedicated to work. I do not know what the ethical pact says…” said the president. Elections are in May 2014.

Panamanian fruits to be exported to Turkey
Watermelon, melon and pineapple are remain magnets for foreign investors. Panama now has the opportunity to send their tropical fruits to Turkey follwing a visit by businessman Mert Buke. The investor was impressed by the quality, sweetness and color of some products grown in La Chorrera, Cocle, Chiriqui and Azuero.

Hands off Public Revenue Authority
International analysts, tax consultants and business groups warned of the need to ward off the emergent Public Revenue Authority (ANIP) from political maneuvering, and to extensively discuss the proposal in the National Assembly and to leverage the creation of the authority to improve the relationship between taxpayers and tax authorities.

Four lanes for the Causeway
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) could produce by the end of March, the design of the four lane widening of the Amador Causeway. This information was revealed by Juan Carlos Orillac, administrator of the Administrative Unit of Reverted Properties (UABR), responsible for the Causeway.

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