Istmian Update – Some of the news in Panama

Plan to boost Ngäbe Bugle region

During a meeting with executives of the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) in Boquete, Chiriqui, the Minister of Government, Milton Henriquez, proposed project funding for the study, design and construction of the capital of the Ngäbe Bugle region. Representatives of CAF were told that this project includes the construction of buildings to house various government entities as well as schools, universities, health care centers and a transportation system with roads connecting to Bocas del Toro. The cost of the project is yet to be determined.

State profits from “reverted” land sales

The Panamanian government will generate over $10,000,000 from the July sale of important parcels of land located in the suburb of Cárdenas in the Pacific Sector through public auctions conducted by the Administrative Unit of Reverted Properties (UABR), part of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. According to a report provided by the Department of Projects and Procedures of the UABR, the property sale has thus far totaled $10,344,912.62. The last of the public auctions will take place July 28.

New electricity tariff announced

At least 80% of the one million customers of the electricity service in Panama in coming days will receive an increase of 5% on their monthly bill, according to Ivan Zarak, the Deputy Economy Minister. The official said that the local rise may represent a monthly increase of “four to five dollars” for Panamanians who consume less than 400 kilowatts (kW) per month.

Electrical subsidies to offset higher tariff

The state will provide an electricity subsidy for customers consuming up to 200 kilowatt hours per month (kWh) or those with a usage of up to $38 monthly. According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), the government will attempt to minimize “the impact of the rate adjustment to people who consume between 201 and 400 kWh of energy, representing about 200,000 residential customers in Panama.”

Gatun Lake’s rise will affect research center

The expansion of the Panama Canal will ultimately lead to an increase of Gatun Lake’s water level by approximately six feet. The management of the Barro Colorado Monument has plans to transfer about 25 of its buildings which will be affected at this stage of project and is seeking to establish the exact area that will be flooded.

C&W declares dividends

The Board of Cable & Wireless declared dividends in the fourth quarter for fiscal year 2013-2014. Jorge Nicolau, the company’s CEO and general manager, said the company maintains its strength and leadership and is proud to contribute to Panama’s development. He expressed optimism about upcoming product launches and service innovations such as digital television and the prepaid Mobile Cash system.

Fair attracts businesses from 120 countries

About 120 Latin American companies will participate from October 21 to 23 in the sixth edition of BIZ FIT Panama, the innovation, technology and business fair. The event positions Panama as a center of innovative trade of the Americas. BIZ FIT will take place at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City and will involve decision-making experts, business leaders, specialists and suppliers of technology solutions.

New Canal budget approved

The Panama Canal faces a decrease of $127,000,000 in yearly income for 2014 due to factors such as the global economic crisis and the delay in work for its expansion. At the Panama Canal Authority’s (ACP) budget hearing for the 2014-2015 term, the Cabinet approved $2,415,000,000. According to ACP Administrator, Jorge Quijano, the Canal’s yearly operational costs total $871,000,000.

New bill proposes protection of wetlands

A bill to declare the Bay of Panama’s wetlands a protected area was presented to the full National Assembly by the Revolutionary Democratic Party deputy, Elias Castillo. The bill is contrary to the initiative promoted by the previous government during a special session, which reduced the scope of this ecosystem. The new proposal maintains current boundaries established by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) that protect the bay’s wetlands.

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