Isthmian Update – Some of the news in Panama

Foreign Tax Compliance Law

In October, the Panamanian authorities will sign the implementation agreement of the American law, the “Foreign Account Tax Compliance or FATCA,” confirmed the Superintendent of Banks of Panama, Alberto Diamond.

Costs of new Hospital City to be reviewed

The construction of the Ricardo Martinelli City Hospital in Chivo Chivo, at a cost of $517 million, will be reviewed by the new director of the Social Security Fund (CSS), Estivenson Girón, to determine whether there were cost overruns or irregularities. Girón, who took office in September, stated that his administration will also evaluate measures taken for the construction of this facility, which is located alongside the new market.

Fears of toxic waste spill from gold mine

The National Environmental Authority (ANAM) fears that the lack of liquidity in Petaquilla Minerals will affect the maintenance of tailings basins (open pits where waste from gold mining is placed) and increase the risk of a spill of toxic waste. Inspectors of the institution checked the status at Molejón in the district of Donoso, Colón province, in early September and found that the company, which has suspended work, had intended to increase the capacity of the tailings basins.

Japan to finance Metro Line 3

President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez, and Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, agreed on the next steps to finalize the financing and construction of Metro Line 3, the transportation project that will positively impact the lives of citizens in the western sector of Panama who move to the capital city daily. During the bilateral meeting held on September 24 at the 69th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, as part of those first steps, President Varela Rodríguez appointed the Minister of Economy and Finance, Dulcidio De la Guardia, to be responsible for refining the details of the financing and construction of Metro Line 3, for which he must travel to Tokyo soon to meet with government counterparts in Japan.

Panama pledges neutrality

During his speech at the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), President Juan Carlos Varela pledged to conduct a foreign policy of neutrality, “We reaffirm our dedication to dialogue, as a country willing to fulfill that responsibility to unite the Americas and the world, in the framework of the United Nations and at every opportunity presented to us to be mediators of the differences that keep us facing the new challenges of the global stage,” said the president.

Lack of planning leads to increase in energy bills

Lack of planning and recruitment of new generation companies during the past five years will be reflected in the supply and cost of energy over the next two years, according to the projection of the authorities. “There will be energy, but it will be more expensive,” says Ivan Barria, manager of the Electric Transmission Company, SA (Etesa).

Ship registration fee waived

Panama seeks to maintain its position as the foremost maritime flag in the world, whose record now stands at 9,100 vessels, according to the manager of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), Jorge Barakat, referring to the resolution passed in recent days which states that new ships that register before December 31, 2015, will not have to pay the registration fee.

City Carnival budget slashed

The City Carnival will not have the usual multi-million dollar budget for 2015, said the administrator of the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), Jesus Sierra, who placed before the Budget Committee of the National Assembly the request for $65 million in the next budget. Sierra said that only $500.000 has been allocated for the City Carnival in contrast to the $4.5 million spent in 2014.

Growing sea levels affect Guna Yala

The residents of isla Gardi Sugdup represent the first documented case of people forced to move because of rising sea levels affecting indigenous groups in Latin America. This is reported in a study by NGO Displacement Solutions, which shows the vulnerability of the islands of the Guna Yala region, and considers the area the most likely to suffer from the effects of rising sea waters.

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