Isthmian Update – Some of the news in Panama

Tender process initiated for new Panama port

In addition to the Balboa terminal, Panama will have a second port on the Pacific side for the movement and storage of containerized cargo (the third if PSA Singapore Panama at Rodman is counted). After more than two years of study and analysis, the board of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) authorized management to initiate the process of prequalification and tender to implement the project. In doing so, the Canal takes its first steps in a new multimillion dollar business just before expansion is completed.

The Ferrufino property trail

Milena Vallarino de Ferrufino, wife of the former Minister of Social Development, Guillermo Ferrufino, bought 24 hectares of land in the village of Herrera in La Chorrera for $4,600, as recorded in the Public Registry. This is a farm in the district of El Jobo (where the Martinelli government built a road for $739,000), acquired in April last year. The transaction was registered on August 8 last year.

Sugarcane crops reclaimed?

The backdoor departure of ethanol from the Panamanian market looks quite different from its entry on April 1, 2013 during the government of Ricardo Martinelli. A press release issued by the company Campos de Pesé, producer of the biofuel, accuses the government of Juan Carlos Varela of forcing it to cease operations and liquidate its 2,200 employees.

The financial wind-fall of Black Friday

The Panamanian Hotel Association of Hotels (APATEL) estimates that the third version of “Black Friday” will create a demand exceeding 70% in hotel occupancy by buyers from Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador and some Caribbean nations to take advantage of deals by local businesses. APATEL President, Jorge Loaiza, said that Black Friday coincides with the start of the high season of tourism in Panama and with improved marketing the commercial event can reap further financial benefits for the country.

Swiss bank backfire

Prosecutors in Brussels today accused HSBC Private Bank, the Swiss subsidiary of HSBC, of tax fraud, money laundering, criminal organization and illegal practice of financial intermediation. In addition, it is believed that the bank “favored and encouraged tax evasion” with some of its privileged tax-advantaged corporate clients via “offshore accounts” -located particularly in Panama and the Virgin Islands- with the intention of concealing the assets.

“Insufficient auditors” may delay Moncada trial

Former Attorney General, Rogelio Cruz, is of the opinion that the deputy and National Assembly prosecutor, Pedro Miguel Gonzalez, will have an almost impossible task, because the assembly has no expert accountants to determine whether suspended Supreme Court judge, Alejandro Moncada Luna, can accurately answers questions about the provenance of his revenue. The lawyer said on TVN-News that neither the prosecution nor the Comptroller’s Office has enough auditors and has been complaining about not being able to perform the number of audits requested.

Panama seeks to become a “yacht hub”

Efrem Zimbalist, CEO of Show Management, the company organizing the Panama International Boat Show of May 2015, has stated that “the target markets of the show are customers in Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.” The show will be held at the Flamenco Marina, which currently has 250 permanent customers, a fact that has prompted a series of expansions currently underway, with which it will be able to receive mega yachts up to 200 feet long. Enrique Goytía, general manager of the Fort Amador Resort and Marina said “for the participating companies in Panama, the ultimate goal is to turn the country into a yacht hub.”

MEF releases latest economic figures

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) introduced the fiscal balance of the nonfinancial public sector (NFPS) of Panama at the end of September 2014. The economic portfolio reflects total revenue of $6.88 billion, representing an increase of 2.0% or $1.34 billion compared to the same period in 2013. The sector’s total expenditure amounted to $8.95 billion, an increase of 12.7% over last year. This resulted in a deficit of 4.4% of gross domestic product (GDP), for a total of $2.07 billion.

Urriola pushes oil exploration

Noting that studies made to date show interesting evidence of the possible existence of oil in commercially exploitable quantities in Panama, former Energy Secretary, Juan M. Urriola, considers it appropriate for the country to deepen the studies on its oil reality. “Regardless of whether the oil market is depressed, as now, Panama should know the resources available,” said Urriola, who was closely tied to that issue when he served in the energy office under President Ricardo Martinelli, until July 1, 2012, when he resigned “for personal reasons.”

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