Isthmian Update March 15

Popular prepaid phones

Isthmian Update March 15. Of the total number of mobile telephone lines presently activated, 89.2% correspond to prepaid services, while the remaining 10.78% are with contracts. The mobile phone market is advancing at a rapid pace. The number of activated mobile lines are almost double the Panamanian population. This is confirmed by data from the Public Service Authority (ASEP).

Selling natural resources

At a press conference held at the Cervantes Park in David, Chiriquí, the National Ngabe Youth Council of Panama (Conajunpa) condemned and rejected what it called the “careless act” carried out by the Ngäbe Buglé General Board of Directors, to sign an agreement granting rights to exploit the natural resources of the largest indigenous reserve in Panama to two Chinese companies and one Israeli firm.

Disappointing result

After the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) granted two extensions to companies that have pre-qualified to build and operate the port of Corozal, they have not yet submitted their economic proposals, generating uncertainty in both the national and international maritime community. Proceedings against the ACP and the project itself, lack of incentives and a long-term port plan could have been the reason why prequalified parties decided not to submit economic proposals, according to experts.

Noriega’s surgery

The 83-years-old former general, Manuel Antonio Noriega, who has been serving jail sentences of 60 years for crimes including homicide, is being treated for a benign brain tumor in a public hospital in the country’s capital. Noriega was admitted to the Santo Tomás Hospital, where he will undergo an intervention that can last several hours, hospital sources told Acan-Efe, who added that they have not been authorized by the family to give information after the operation.

Abusive preachers

The Panamanian Episcopal Conference (CEP) ordered that preachers, music ministries and other church officials travelling abroad should be authorized by the respective diocese. Presentations by foreign religious speakers must also be authorized by the diocese in which he/she wishes to preach. For this purpose a decree was issued after it was discovered that abuses have been committed using as an excuse evangelization, preparation and celebration of the sacraments. Many preachers, ministers and others in positions of power were driven by particular interests and individualistic attitudes, acting outside the norms of Canon Law.

Where is the money?

About $14 million has been processed by the National Assembly in an estimated 4,000 collection procedures, from July 2014 to date, for donations, subsidies and economic support. Most of these grants do not come from natural persons, but from non-profit associations, many of them linked to legislators, as well as municipalities, communal boards and private interest organizations.

Under scrutiny

Vigorous vetting of active or operational seafarers’ licenses is taking place among those who have them as a result of irregular or fraudulent processes which took place between 2011 and 2014, following the assessments applied by the Orion Maritime Training Center. Orion was created in 2010, just months after the then-president of the Republic , Ricardo Martinelli, took over the office, and almost immediately the administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) at the time, Roberto Linares, authorized this new training center to impart the different maritime training courses, among them, the so-called exclusive assessments.

Lowering the standards

Captains and officials of the Panama Canal denounced a proposal to modify the training professionals must have to operate tugboats and the knowledge they should have about safety regulations. This is because a Venezuelan company was hired to operate the tugs that are needed. This decision is contrary to the Canal Law, say the complainants.

No fishy business

The Authority for Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition (Acodeco) made a tour of the Seafood Market facilities. During the operation for Lent in the Seafood Market, Acodeco verified that prices were correct and calibrated the scales. According to Acodeco 36 scales were verified and only one removed because it was not calibrated.

Isthmian Update March 15: Cruise ship in Cebaco

The “Star Pride” cruise ship of Windstar Cruises Company, docked for the first time in Cébaco island, Montijo district, province of Veraguas, with 150 passengers and 150 crew, mostly from the United States. The ship left the port of Golfito, in Costa Rica, and arrived at about 11:00 a.m. At the island tourists disembarked to enjoy the sun, the white sand and the crystal clear waters of the place.

Back to Cuba

The deportation of Cubans who remain irregularly in Panamanian territory is the central issue of the memorandum of understanding signed between Cuba and Panama, an official source said. The National Immigration Service of Panama (SNM) said in a statement that the head of this entity, Javier Carrillo, signed the memorandum in Havana “for deportations of Cubans who are irregularly in the Republic of Panama”.

Unprotected harvest

Last year 30,435 hectares of cultivated land were insured, but it is just a small fraction of everything grown in the country. The crops are unprotected. Only 4% of the 300,000 farmers have their crops insured, although crop losses due to climate change are on the up.

Mining energy

Petaquilla Minerals copper mine will sell energy to the State. The copper project will sell 2% of its electricity production to the Panamanian state. The Ministry of Government is analyzing the future of the Petaquilla Minerals concession, which has been paralyzed since the end of 2013 due to lack of funds. The mining company, First Quantum, is making progress in its project to extract copper, also in the district of Donoso province of Colón.

Mc Jobs

Arcos Dorados, as a catalyst for social mobility in Panama and the Latin American and Caribbean region, launched the “My first job” program with the aim of creating opportunities for employability and vocational training for young people in the region. The company – the world’s largest McDonald’s franchise in terms of system wide sales and number of premises – is actively seeking to eradicate one of the major social problems in the region: youth unemployment.

A huge success

The administrator of the Panama Tourism Authority, Gustavo Him, said that the Carnival of the capital city broke records in attendance by exceeding last year’s figures. Some 900,000 people enjoyed the five day party. Him announced that he will coordinate with the most representative tunas (dance groups) of the country to hold “the parade of the queens”, in April that will be a folkloric spectacle and will take place on the Coastal Strip.

100 years in Panama

The Panamanian Red Cross has celebrated its 100th year anniversary with different activities and a great gala dinner with international guests. On March 1, 1917, the Panamanian authorities signed the decree that created the Panamanian Red Cross, promoted by “Lady” Matilde Obarrio de Mallet, wife of the British consul in Panama in those years , Javier Fernández.

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