Isthmian Update – Vol. 22#5

Contributions to CAF

Panama will contribute the sum of $190 million to CAF Development Bank of Latin America from 2017 to 2022. This measure was taken, after the director of that organism called for an increase in the quotas paid by member countries. The bank needs $4,500 million to continue its operations. That was announced by the Minister of Economy and Finance, Dulcidio De La Guardia, who said that the payment to CAF was authorized by the State Economic Council (CENA) in the last meeting.

Water for carnival

Health Minister, Javier Terrientes, said that seven areas have been identified near the mouths of rivers flowing to the sea, which could be used to supply the tanks during Carnival culecos. The minister said that in times of water crisis people should not waste water. He also stressed, that is the responsibility of government to enforce the laws on the use of drinking water and water resources.

Fire in San Miguelito

During the early hours of Tuesday, January 26, a fire broke out in the El Fuerte Supermarket, located in San Miguelito. The Panama Fire Brigade managed to extinguish it. They explained that the fire originated on the 3rd Floor of the building and units from Calidonia, Betania, Carrasquilla, San Miguelito, Tocumen, the Panama Canal and Juan Diaz fought the blaze.

Labor costs

The Panama Canal, one of the main sources of income of the country, will have labor costs for the sum of $569 million this fiscal year, an amount that represents 55% of its total expenses. The amount was included in the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) budget of $2,630 million that was approved by the National Assembly for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2015 and ending on September 30, 2016.

Water paradox

The Minister for Environment, Mirei Endara, said that the water crisis is a paradox: the studies made by the National Water Council, created in August last year, showed that there is “plenty” of this vital liquid in the country. However, there is no doubt that there is a supply crisis as a result of El Niño.

In August the Cabinet declared a state of emergency, because of the climatic phenomenon and put mechanisms in place to assure the supply of drinking water to the public and ensure that the liquid is available to the agricultural and industrial sectors.

Study logistics

Logistics and technical careers are the professions of tomorrow, said Captain Orlando Allard, the new president of COSPAE (Private Sector Council for Educational Assistance) for the 2016 period. The representative of the Chamber of Shipping in the council urges young people to choose those professions, especially when the expanded Panama Canal starts operations.

AMCHAM new president

The CEO of Colón Import & Export, Aristides Chiriatti, was elected as the new President of the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Panama (AmCham) for the period 2016. The elected president’s priority is to continue to strengthen AmCham’s mission of promoting free trade and business among its members. One of his plans is to continue to promote Panama in US cities.

Suspend the carnival

Panamanians are suffering the consequences of the water crisis all over the country, but the concern is increased by the celebration of culecos during carnival. People asked the government to suspend carnival this year, because after the celebration the most affected areas (Azuero) will not have enough drinking water.

Colón Free Zone crisis continues

The Colón Free Zone (CFZ) commercial activities continued to slow down at the the end of 2015. Figures from the Comptroller General’s Office confirmed that between January and November 2015, it barely generated $20 billion, marking a slowdown of 10% compared with 2014. In the first 11 months of 2015, re-exports amounted to $10,518 million, 13.7% less that in the previous year.

Stricter regulations for foreigners

The Association of Friends, Residents and Naturalized Panamanians (ARENA) agrees with the Governments proposal of setting stricter standards for foreigners who are illegal. Rafael Rodriguez, president of ARENA, said that many foreigners refuse to legalize their status in the country.

Infrastructure for Bocas del Toro

President Juan Carlos Varela gave the order to proceed with contracts for more than $100 million to improve infrastructure in Bocas del Toro, during a tour of the region in which he was accompanied by the president of the PRD and deputy, Benicio Robinson. For Colón and Carenero Islands, he announced an investment of $15.9 million for the construction of a sewage system and to increase the storage capacity of raw water in the lagoon of Quebrada Grande.

Sales galore

Shops continue to give discounts of up to 70% as a strategy to boost sales during the first month of the year. Some businesses have announced that the offers will finish at the end of January, while others will extend them until February to entice more consumers. Some shops felt that one reason for this trend is a direct result of the opening of more shopping centers, so people have more stores to choose from.

New INAC Director

President Juan Carlos Varela has appointed Janelle Davidson as the Director General of the National Institute of Culture (INAC). Davidson, who has over 14 years experience in the performing arts scene as an actress, singer, musical and theatrical producer, says that her new mission will be to guide, promote, coordinate, manage and promote the cultural activities throughout the country as well as protecting, rescuing, disseminating and preserving the cultural and historical heritage of the country.

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