Isthmian Update Some of the news in Panama

Resident cards galore

A total of 6,347 residence cards were delivered by the National Immigration Service (SNM) to foreigners who flocked to the “XIII Melting Pot Fair”. Of this total about 3,756 foreigners were processed with permissions for two years, while about 2,592 did so for 10 years. The preliminary report of SNM detailed that Colombians (2,680) topped the list of legalization.

Tourist choice, Carnival in the City

Carnival in the capital city in recent years has become one of the options for Panamanians who do not want to travel into the countryside all at the same time. A large number of tourists (up to 25,000) are expected for this year’s event.

This is according to statistics from the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) and the Comptroller’s Office.

Finding funds for the Canal expansion

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has guarantees for $1,148 million which it could collect if the Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) consortium definitively abandons the work on the third set of locks. Of that total, $450 million is related to securities issued by Zurich American Insurance, with whom the ACP is meeting along with GUPC to analyze different scenarios of continuity, although neither is willing to budge.

Shopping for school supplies

Time to start shopping for school supplies for the new school year, which begins on February 24, and consumers can buy over 41 products that are exempt from the 7% value added tax through a law enacted for public and private schools. According to Law 17 of July 15, 1992, and Executive Decree 16 of 7 March 2008, the school supplies have an exemption of ITBMS provided that some products, such as glue, do not exceed the price of two dollars. School backpacks are exempt up to $30 as are sneakers for PE.

New minimum wage double trouble

For many companies the increase in the minimum wage was a double edged sword. Nineteen districts of the country have been moved into Region 1, the grouping where higher wages are concentrated in Panama. “A small retail business in Parita formerly in Region 2 then paid an estimated minimum of $301.60, but on being moved to Region 1, the new minimum wage would be approximately $415.99, representing an increase of 38 %,” said an area businessman.

Pacific Lookout breakwater will cost $68 million

The Pacific Lookout (Mirador del Pacifico) breakwater which is part of the work of Coastal Strip Three cost $31 million above the estimate in the environmental impact study (EIS) submitted to the National Environment Authority in October 2011. A report of the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) indicates that the breakwater of 6.8 hectares of landfill ultimately cost $68 million.

Panama will grow 7% this year

In a recent report, the rating agency Fitch Ratings predicted that Panama will grow 7% this year. Despite the slowdown compared to the previous year, official estimates predict growth of 8.5% in 2013 – the local economy maintaining strong growth.

Panamanian coffee in South Korea

After several meetings, the Diamond Mountain Panamanian coffee, which is produced in Boquete in the Chiriqui Highlands, arrived this month in South Korea through the chain of European-style coffee shops, Artesee Coffe Shop Café, and marketed through branches of Samsung Town, Yeouido, Dosanro, CenterONE, Gangnam, Bundang Seolleung Daechi Tower and Seohyun.

The mysterious organization of the tenth province

Although it has already been published in the Official Gazette Law 119 of December 30, 2013, which created the province of West Panama, it is still unknown whether there is any guideline for its organization to begin. The deputy governor of Panama, Manuel Hernandez, said he did not know any pattern that has been indicated on the subject, and it is a management matter of the Minister of Government, Ricardo Fabrega, because all provincial governments are under that mandate.

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