Isthmian Update – Some of news in Panama

No more free rides

Starting Sunday, June 15, Panama’s Metro service will no longer be free. Commuters using the transport service will now have to pay $0.35 per ride, according to Executive Decree 367 of May 23, 2014. The fee can be paid using cards issued for the Metro, MetroBus or RapiPass, according to information released on the Metro’s official company website.

A dollar saved?

Every day, the economy loses about $2 million due to energy saving measures which affect business and industry, according to experts. In Panama, each kilowatt hour (kWh) produces on average $3.85 of gross domestic product (GDP). According to Victor Urrutia, former director of the National Authority of Public Services; Issac Castillo, former manager of Etesa and Rafael Moscote, former director of the Regulatory Agency, for every kWh “saved” there is a loss in production of $3.85.

President-elect announces cabinet appointments

Against the backdrop of the famous Wilcox house in Colón, President-elect Juan Carlos Varela announced the new names of those designated to form part of his government staff, whose duties will begin on July 1, 2014. Lawyer Rodolfo Aguilera and Mario Etchelecu were appointed as new Minister of Security and Minister of Housing and Planning respectively. Deputy Minister of Housing is Jorge Gonzalez, a Panameñista Party leader in Arraijan.

New low-cost flights to Colombia

The low cost airline Viva Colombia will start round-trip daytime routes every day between Bogota and Panama and night frequencies between Medellin and Panama City on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. In both cases, the flights will originate in Colombia and land at the Panama Pacific International Airport. The airline reported that the plane tickets can be purchased starting at $139 each way.

Banking assets on the rise

At the end of the first quarter, the Panama International Banking Center accumulated assets of

$98.8 billion, representing an increase of $5.8 billion or 6.2% compared to last year, reported the Superintendence of Banks of Panama. For its part, the National Banking System, whose classification excludes internationally-licensed banks, had assets of $80.5 billion, an increase of 5.1% compared to March, 2013.

UNESCO to review the Old Town’s status

This month is crucial for the Old Town’s (Casco Antiguo) status as a UNESCO world heritage site. Within weeks, a meeting will be held in Doha, Qatar, located on a small peninsula in the Persian Gulf, where the 21-member World Heritage Committee will analyze, among other items, Casco Antiguo’s position regarding the modifications made to its delimitations, a key issue justifying the review of its outstanding universal value.

“Gas Natural” sells subsidiary

The Spanish group Gas Natural signed an agreement to sell its subsidiary, Gas Natural Fenosa Telecomunicaciones (GNFT), present in Spain and Latin America, to the European investment fund Cinven for €510 million euros ($690 million). The transaction represents gross gains of €250 million euros for the Spanish multinational. This divestment is part of the strategic plan presented by Natural Gas in November 2013 which, among other objectives, aims to optimize the company’s business portfolio as a “strategic fit,” as reported by the Spanish energy company to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV).

The high cost of battling the bulge

Maintaining one’s figure has become somewhat expensive for many, as fitness centers and gyms now maintain high costs. People often pay more than $50 every two weeks to attend places to exercise. The daily rate at some gyms is between $3 and $5, a weekly equivalent of $20 to $25. For a fortnight, this is about $50 or $60, which equals $100 to $120 per month per person.

Frito Lay lay-off

Dismantled machinery and hundreds of settlement checks were the last images received by the more than 200 workers of Alimentos del Istmo SA (Adisa), a subsidiary of the multinational PepsiCo Inc. The company had been responsible for the production of popular snacks such as Doritos, Cheetos, Lay’s and Kachitos until the recent closure of its production facilities in the country. The company is likely to maintain its presence in Panama, but it will depend entirely on food imports from other Central American nations.

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