Isthmian Update – Vol. 20#20

Power outage causes retail losses

There was a loss of $6 million in the retail trade sector as a result of last week’s blackout, said José Luis Ford, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture. According to his estimates, the retail business sector loses $3 million for each hour without power. Fernando Marciscano, manager of the Electricity Transmission Company, SA., explained that the failure was due to a problem with the power lines at the substation located in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro.

Panama enjoys low sales tax

Of countries in Latin America, Panama has one of the lowest tax rates when it comes to what is known as “property transfer and services” (ITBMS), which is the tax that consumers pay when purchasing goods and services. The Panamanian State directly charges consumers a 7% ITBMS tax rate, making it one of the lowest in the region when compared to the 21% paid in Argentina or 19% imposed by Chile and Brazil.

Reward increased to find missing tourists

The families of the two young Dutch girls who went missing on April 2 in the province of Chiriqui, in western Panamá, increased the reward for information leading to finding them alive to $40,000. Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers, 22 and 21 years of age, respectively, disappeared in the town of Boquete. An intensive search was carried out for two weeks which focused on the forests of the Cordillera de Talamanca, an area located in the mountains between the provinces of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro and bordering with Costa Rica.

Panama best in mobile coverage

Panama has double the wireless coverage capacity compared to the number of inhabitants. The country has 189.5% mobile penetration in the population, according to a study entitled “Towards the digital transformation of Latin America,” published last week by the Andean Development Corporation (CAF). This figure represents the highest level mobile service reach in all the countries studied, which included Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Jamaica, Colombia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, among others.

Diplomatic relations with Venezuela to be restored

President-elect Juan Carlos Varela announced that Panama will restore diplomatic relations with Venezuela on July 1. The Panameñista Party leader said in an interview with the Panama News Agency (ANPanamá) that he has already discussed the issue with Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro.

Cell phones to become e-wallets

Cable & Wireless Panama and Metrobank announced the launch of MóvilCash, an innovative financial service that will permit any “Más Mobile” cell phone to serve as an electronic wallet with which a user can make money transfers, recharge their airtime and purchases goods or services from merchants that accept this form of payment. MóvilCash is based on a robust platform with support from Metrobank.

Big numbers expected during Housing Expo

The Panamanian Chamber of Construction (CAPAC) is predicting transactions totaling more than $155 million from the sale and financing of dwellings that will take place over the four days of the Expovivienda real estate fair. Carlos Allen, president of the exposition’s organizing committee, said there has been an increase of 18% in Housing Expo transactions from 2009 to 2014, and that this year further growth is expected due to the enactment of the Preferred Interest Act.

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