Isthmian Update – Vol. 21#9

More canal income

The Panamanian government expects the Panama Canal to generate additional contributions to the treasury of about $500 million from 2017, said the Minister of Economy and Finance, Dulcidio De La Guardia. With regard to the contribution of the Canal for 2015, De La Guardia said the government expected it to be “similar to last year”, i.e., $1.03 billion.

ACP bargaining

Three unions in the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), representing 8,000 workers, with almost 10,000 on the payroll of the entity, requested an “immediate” increase of $10 per hour on their base salaries. The financial proposal was submitted to the ACP administration as part of negotiations for a new collective agreement by the bargaining unit of non-professionals.

Mega mergers

During 2014, Latin America experienced mergers and acquisitions with a total value of $137 billion, 40% more than in the previous year. Despite representing a small region of the continent, Panama has seen some of the largest trading company operations in recent years. For example, the acquisition of HSBC by Bancolombia, for about $2.23 billion was the third largest transaction in Latin America in 2013.

Convention center

In 2014, 109 international events were held in Panama. This year, there are 15 confirmed events for the first months of the year. Of all events held last year, 20% were negotiated directly by hotels that have expanded the capacity of their meeting rooms. The rest of the convention bookings were made through the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), an office that promotes and markets Panama as a destination for events and which works under the auspices of Panama’s Tourism Authority (ATP).

Filming center

In the past two years, Panama has attracted $31 million in film investment, with 120 productions in which more than 1,100 local experts have taken part, said the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI). The landscapes, social and economic stability, local professionals and ease of Customs and Immigration are some of the factors that are attracting the interest of international film producers.

MOP it alone

The Ministry of Public Works (MOP) will use its own personnel to resume projects that for over 20 years had been assigned to private enterprises, said the Minister of the MOP, Ramón Arosemena. The Budget Committee of the National Assembly assigned this entity over $34 million, which will provide $20 million for the purchase of heavy equipment, so that the entity can run its own highway projects and road improvements.

Hydro dam squabble

After the government ordered the penalization of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project for non-compliance, Aldo Lopez, General Manager of the builder, Genisa, said he expects the suspension to be short. Lopez says they have had several meetings with indigenous groups and signed two agreements. The first was reached in 2008 with the cacique, Macimo Saldana, which came after 45 meetings for the compensation of a right of way in the lake area. The other was in March 2011, attended by government officials and indigenous community representatives. The leadership of Ngäbe Buglé groups presented a resolution to President Juan Carlos Varela asking him to cancel the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project.Varela invited indigenous people to a Cabinet meeting to be held on March 4. The president of the Regional Congress indigenous group, Toribio Garcia, said in a tone of anger and worry that they expected a better response from the president.

Homesickness

Former President Ricardo Martinelli feels “far away from home.” For the umpteenth time since January 28, when he left Panama, he said he has a desire to return, but legal proceedings against him are in the way. This time, Martinelli repeated his escapist story in the program of the Cuban-Puerto Rican journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, through the channel Mira TV, available for the southern area of Florida.

Another Martinelli

The Electoral Tribunal (TE) lifted the electoral immunity of Mario Martinelli, brother of former president, Ricardo Martinelli, following a request from the First Anticorruption Prosecutor for his alleged involvement in the drafting of contracts with overpricing for the purchase of bags of rice through the National Assistance Program (PAN).

Eyeing The AMP

The Third Anti-Corruption Prosecutor made an ocular inspection at the premises of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), in order to collect all the administrative records that may exist against F International Group for the violent attack of July 27, 2009, on a land lease of businessman Jean Figali on the Amador Causeway. The violent action of 2009 was led by former president Ricardo Martinelli.

Case Delayed

The full Supreme Court decided that, before asking the Electoral Tribunal (TE) to lift the electoral immunity of former Panamanian president, Ricardo Martinelli, it should resolve the appeals filed by his defense lawyers. Through a resolution, the justices said they will resolve the appeals filed by lawyers for Martinelli against the decision of January 28, 2015, when the Supreme Court decided to admit a complaint against Martinelli for the corruption scandal in the National Assistance Program (PAN).

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