Isthmian Update – Some of the news in Panama

Search efforts called off

“It is very difficult to accept that we have reached a time when efforts by SINAPROC are less aggressive,” said Hans Kromer, father of Kris, one of the two young Dutch women lost since April 2 in Boquete, after learning that the ten-day intensive search has given way to “monitoring” the area. According to information from the National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC), specialized personnel in the area were searching the last place where the young women could have been.

Panama strengthens ties with China

The governments of Panama and China are working to strengthen their trade relations and increase cultural and social exchange between the two countries, officials said. The collaboration between the two countries was driven by the Foreign Minister of Panama, Francisco Alvarez De Soto, and the Representative of the Office of Business Development for China in Central America, Wang Weihua, during a meeting in the Panamanian Foreign Ministry.

Further improvements of agro supply-chain

The opening of the Postharvest Center of Dolega completes the delivery of a series of logistics centers that will handle agricultural products (washing, packaging, etc.) in the country. Goods from the new center will then be marketed using the cold chain. The center, inaugurated on April 10, had a total investment of $12.2 million and is the fourth delivered, including Volcan and Cerro Punta in the Chiriqui province, and El Ejido in the province of Los Santos, already in operation. The total investment in the four centers amounts to about $70.2 million.

Metro safety system checks out

In its first 300 hours of operation, the Panama Metro subway registered only two incidents that have forced it to stop train operations, which, inconveniences notwithstanding, certifies that the security system is working 100%. The Metro Chief Operating Officer, Juan de Dios Moreno, clarified that the two incidents interrupted operation of the trains for little more than 10 minutes.

Metro awards insurance contract

Since April 6, Metro users have been utilizing the new transport system without accident insurance protection. The news came to light because of a complaint issued by the International Insurance Company (IS) to the Board of Public Procurement, after the Secretariat of the Panama Metro (SMP) declared the insurance company, Assa, with their bid of $1.3 million, winner of the contract.

Slight recovery in hydroelectric plants

The reduction in demand for electricity during peak hours, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., has contributed to a slight recovery in lake levels. Marianela Herrera, assistant manager of the Electricity Transmission Company (Etesa), said that there have been rains in the area where the Fortuna plant is located, which have improved the dam’s water level. The National Dispatch Center (CND) noted that use of the Bayano, Changuinola and Fortuna reservoirs was minimized during Holy Week.

Guardian Angel program finalized

More than $800,000 was paid through the Guardian Angel social program, which ended April 17, said Natasha Belotti, program director. The bimonthly, $160 payments went to recipients in March and April. In Panama, 5140 people benefitted from the program which was designed for those with severe disabilities and their dependents, and for those living in extreme poverty.

Strike threat deemed “concerning”

Construction industry groups that are members of the Inter-Union Alliance in the Construction Industry (IACI) expressed their “deep concern” at the latest national strike called for this week by the Union of Construction Workers and Similar (Suntracs). The IACI is composed of the Association of Realtors (Acobir), the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC), the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), the National Housing Developers (Convivienda) and the Panamanian Institute of Architecture and Urbanism (IPAUR).

Food costs on the rise

The cost of food and beverages increased by 5.1% in March compared with the same month last year, according to the Comptroller’s Office. This is the fastest growing sector of the consumer price index (CPI) which was recently made public by the state agency. While the increase in costs of food and drink is affecting the pockets of consumers, presidential hopefuls are running on campaign promises that they will lower the price of basic goods.

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