Isthmian Update

Isthmian Update is a compilation of recent news from Panama.

Offshore banking legislation

Isthmian Update – The Government of Panama will create an independent committee of national and international experts to evaluate “our current practices and propose measures about how to share information with other countries to strengthen the transparency of financial and legal systems,” said President Juan Carlos Varela after meeting with 45 diplomatic representations.

Barcelo is back

The Spanish Barcelo Hotels & Resorts chain returns to Panama after 11 years and now enters the market with a city hotel under a management contract for 10 years. In 2005, the company ended its connection with the project of Playa Blanca on the Panama Pacific beaches and now has signed a lease with the company Dilido Panama SA, to have in its portfolio Occidental Panamá City, a hotel of 143 rooms located in the banking area.

FTA with South Korea

From March 29 to April 1 this year, a negotiating session took place in Seoul, South Korea, for the signing of a Free Trade Agreement with the Republic of Korea that was held by the Ministry of Commerce and industries. It seeks to devote more time to the issues that merit further discussion and achieve progress in the negotiations.

Panamanian scandal

Panama is world news. It has monopolized the headlines for a week, since the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) unveiled the historic leaked documents baptized with the name “Panama Papers”, splashing a considerable number of political leaders around the world along with renowned entrepreneurs, artistes and even sports stars, who have accounts and companies in “offshore” financial systems. The information is profuse with all kinds of analysis for or against the country, the government and the international financial center of Panama where 90 banks, 76 trust funds and 29 insurance companies operate.

Out of proportion

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Augusto Arosemena Moreno, lamented the “confusion” and “sensationalism” of the treatment of the “Panama Papers”, considering that they are ignoring the measures taken against money laundering by the country. Arosemena expressed this in remarks to reporters before attending a business meeting in Madrid about business and investment opportunities in Panama.

More cooperation

The Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria, expects the government of Panama to cooperate to prevent tax evasion, in light of the “Panama Papers”. Gurria said this in Tokyo, where he is on an official visit and added that the Panamanian Vice President, Isabel Saint Malo, advised last week that her government “is willing to cooperate fully with the OECD”.

Mossack Fonseca under scrutiny

The operations of the firm Mossack Fonseca passed the scrutiny of the authorities in several jurisdictions, following the disclosure of the documents to which the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung had access and shared with 109 other media outlets. Venezuelan prosecutors are evaluating a request for the arrest of people suspected of corruption and money laundering who were identified in the global investigation.

Tocumen saves $100 million

The State will receive $100 million in additional revenue from the Tocumen International Airport SA. It is a product of operations and savings made in various service contracts, according to a report submitted to President Juan Carlos Varela by the administrator of this air terminal, Joseph Fidanque. He explains that this occurs as a result of better administrative management, based on transparency and efficiency and adjustment in rates.

Low water lakes

Draft reductions for transit of vessels was announced by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) from April 18, because the level of the Gatun and Alajuela lakes continue to decline. Gatun was at 1.70 meters below the level that it must have for this date, while Alajuela is being used to take raw water for the Chilibre water treatment plant and is 6.33 meters below its level for this time of year.

No social security

The Ministry of Labor estimates that there are about 90,000 people who work at home in the country, but only 13,500 are registered with the Social Security Fund (CSS). This is a problem that is recognized worldwide. Estimates indicate that almost 9 out of 10 people working in the domestic sector do not have this benefit.

Don’t miss the next Isthmian Update to keep you informed about Panama.

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