Isthmian Update Some of the news in Panama

Construction on the up

Last year, the value of buildings, additions and repairs in the country reached $1,801 million, representing an increase of 32.4% compared to $1,360 million declared in 2012, according to the Comptroller’s Office. Nonresidential construction occupies first place in the statistics, reaching the sum of $976.5 million from January to December 2013, an increase of 21.8 % compared to the same period last year.

Largest consumer of electricity

Panama used 90% of the total energy produced in the country in 2013, and the largest consumer of this was the commercial sector. Last year, the country produced a total of 8,290,183,000 kilowatts of energy, of which 7,493,790,000 kilowatts were consumed. Hydroelectric plants produced most of the energy, with a total of 4,927,029,000 kilowatts, while thermal generators produced 3,215,812,000 kilowatts, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

New face for Casco Antiguo

The Government received the rehabilitation work of the historic Old Town (Casco Antiguo) that began two years ago under the company Odebrecht. Celebrating the event with a cultural show, President Ricardo Martinelli inspected the works which included: renovation of streets and infrastructure, installation of drainage and pipes for drinking water, recovery of foundations, burying of cables and the construction of a parking lot for 117 vehicles.

Internal disputes in GUPC

Although the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) reached a partial agreement that includes the resumption of work on the third set of locks, there are still differences at the negotiating table. Friction might have resurfaced within the members of the group. President Ricardo Martinelli spoke about this matter: “It seems that there are some internal differences between the various contractors,” he said, without giving additional details.

No payment from Venezuela

The Venezuelan economy is plunging amid their political crisis. For the Colon Free Zone (CFZ), Venezuela is the target for traders and banks to collect bad debts. As yet, there is no solution to the conflict in sight. “Recent developments in the country and the silence of many trading partners create fear of a break in existing and future business, and also convey a natural fear of losses on the already pending debts,” said financial analyst Walter Brunetti.

Three of Chong Chon Gang’s to face trial

Three of the 35 crew members of the North Korean ship, “Chong Chon Gang,” will be tried in Panama for smuggling weapons and threatening the collective security of the State. These crew members are the ship’s captain, first officer and political officer, who could face sentences of 12 years in prison, according to the Criminal Procedure Code. The other 32 sailors set out from Panama aboard a ship bound for Havana, Cuba, on January 15.

Old Quarter houses in disrepair to be expropriated

President Ricardo Martinelli renewed demands for residents of the Old Town to remove cables and threatened to expropriate the homes that are in disrepair. Martinelli was referring to 40 properties that have not been remodeled, despite the tax exemption and other benefits granted to owners by the government.

Increase on passenger movement

The arrival of new airlines in 2013 prompted a large movement of passengers at Tocumen International Airport. The airport terminal closed the year with 7,784,000 passengers, up 11.8% compared to 2012 figures. In total, $25.4 million was spent by Tocumen passengers in the last four years.

Panama needs branding

The Tourism Commission of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE) noted that the next president will be asked to support the country’s brand, slogan and theme, since after more than 20 years, the country still lacks a defined identity internationally. The chairman of the APEDE’s Committee on Tourism, Moises Veliz, told the Panama News Agency that at present there is a serious problem because every time there is a change of government, the new administration decides to put a new brand on the country which has prevented the country’s position from advancing internationally.


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