Isthmian Update May 22

Punishment for tax evasion?

The Government of Panama is evaluating the criminalization of tax evasion, which is a recommendation of agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the Financial Action Task Force and the United Nations. In an IMF report on Panama, the entity noted that “the Panamanian legal framework must be fully aligned with international standards, including the consideration of tax crimes as a precedent for money laundering

No to Uber

Members of the Tocumen Tourist Transport Union clashed on Monday, May 15 with agents of the National Police Force, in the midst of a caravan that was carried out as a measure of pressure to demand the elimination of the Uber platform.

New test for money laundering

The Latin American arm of the Financial Action Group (Gafilat) is evaluating the effectiveness of Panama in preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. The country is undergoing a new test after having left the FATF list in February 2016.

Squatter trouble

The Administrative Unit for Reverted Property (UABR) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance reports that more than 22 hectares where informal squatter settlements have been built, in Cerro Galera, are not for sale. The lands were transferred to the National Environment Authority (Ministry of the Environment) through Resolution 016-05 of February 16, 2005 for reforestation and conservation.

Panama ranks 10th

A new positioning of Panama as an international destination for the celebration of events was certified by the most important ladder worldwide. Panama ranked number ten in Latin America, in a list established by the International Association of Congresses and Conventions (ICCA) while in the world it moved from position 58 to 51, compared with 2015.

No questions please

President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez once again showed his discomfort and disgust at questions posed by journalists. Last Sunday, during the Eucharistic Citation, the president was questioned by TVN journalist Icard Reyes, who asked whether he had received donations from the Odebrecht company in his election campaign.

Martin Torrijos on the witness stand

The former president, Martin Torrijos, appeared in the file of Operation Lava Jato. Businessman Eduardo Aparecido de Meira – who handled a company that received millions in Petrobras contracts – called on him as a witness. The details of this link were revealed by lawyer Guillermo Cochez, who disseminated part of the documentation of the 13th Circuit in Curitiba, where the case against Meira is based.

Balboa Bank & Trust, Corp gets a retrieve

The Superintendence of Banks of Panama ordered, through Resolution SBP-0079-2017 of May 15, 2017, the extension of Reorganization of BALBOA BANK & TRUST, CORP., (part of the Waked Group which is on the Clinton List created by the U.S. Office for Foreign Assets Control) for a period of seventy-five (75) days. This period may be anticipated or extended by this Superintendence according to the Banking Law.

$1.9 billion illicit money

Panama is being used for about $1.9 billion illicit financial flow from drug trafficking and other crimes related to transnational organized crime, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). That large flow comes mainly from North and South America.

Fee for Bay sanitation project

The Panama Bay sanitation project requires a maintenance budget close to $30 million per year. These costs have been borne by the State since the plant’s inception in 2013. “This work costs a lot of money, and we want to have a sustainable service, whatever, and that’s why we have to charge a fee,” said. Tatiana De Janón, Coordinator of the Sanitation Project Unit of the Ministry of Health.

Non heterosexual marriage a possibility

The Prosecutor of the Administration, Rigoberto González Montenegro, recognized equality in matrimony. According to the 503 vision dated May 11, 2017, González Montenegro issued a favorable concept to the declaration of unconstitutionality of a sentence of article 26 of the Family Code that restricts marriage to heterosexual couples.

New requirements for SMV

The Securities Superintendency (SMV) has regulated the new requirements with which all debt issuers must comply. One of the most significant changes set out in agreement 3-2017 of April 5, 2017, is the presentation of a risk calorie as part of the documents that have to be included in all requests for registration of securities.

AMP cooperates with Ecuador

The Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) reported in a communiqué, that it is giving all cooperation to Ecuadorian judicial authorities in investigations related to the seizure of illegal substances carried on the vessel KRAKEN I, arrested in Ecuadorian waters, on May 11.

Eviction in Cerro Galera continues

President Juan Carlos Varela announced he has continued with the eviction operation in Cerro Galera, located in the district of Arraiján, and that these people are citizens in different projects of the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning (Miviot). He regretted the death of a woman in a squatter invasion area after a wall fell on her.

Assets of Panama Savings Fund decrease

According to a recent report by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) the assets of the Panama Savings Fund (FAP) amounted to $1,384 million in December 2016, lower than the $1,389 million in December 2015 and $1,411 million in December 2014. In absolute terms, FAP’s assets decreased by $5 million in 2016 (in respect to 2015) and was reduced by $21 million in 2015 (compared to 2014). This means that during the period from 2014 to 2016, the FAP decreased by $26 million.

Teachers to march May 19

The teacher leader, Diógenes Sánchez, of the Association of Teachers (Asoprof), confirmed again the protest actions at national level by a great march on May 19. Sánchez said that this is an action of “imminent” pressure, which is why he urged professionals not to give classes on this date.

Falsified social security cards

The director of the Social Security Fund (CSS) , Alfredo Martiz, announced that since taking command, he has discovered about 173 falsified cards. This discovery, according to Martiz, came after a series of publications on social networks in which social security insurance was said to be given to foreigners, which triggered a series of investigations that produced this finding.

Panama at Expotur Costa Rica

Panama exhibited its tourism offer in the 33rd edition of Expotur Costa Rica, a country praised for its management of the sector and Panama is said to be “learning”, according to the Panamanian tourism body. The head of the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), Gustavo Him, accompanied the representatives of the 16 Panamanian companies that participated in Expotur Costa Rica, held between Wednesday 10 and Friday, May 12, with buyers from 34 countries from America, Europe and Asia.

Oderbrecht in the news again

The largest contractor to the Panamanian State, Odebrecht, was the largest donor of the failed electoral campaign of presidential candidate, José Domingo “Mimito” Arias. Mónica Moura and Joao Santana detailed in their statements that the cost of that campaign was $21 million, of which $16 million was donated by Odebrecht.

Bananas in short supply

The banana, considered the second most consumed product of Panamanians, after rice, runs the risk of continuing to increase in price and decrease in supply in the market in the coming months, as there are problems in its production This is because since last November strong winds have caused losses, according to Yoris Morales, a trader in the market.

Fruit tree cultivation

A group of 24 demonstration plots of fruit trees have been established in the province of Chiriquí to promote the cultivation of species such as guanabana (sour sop), avocado, papaya, Chinese papaya and Persian lemons, according to the regional director of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (Mida) in Chiriquí, Rolando Guerrero, who pointed out that with the help of the staff of Agroindustrias efforts are being made to reduce the decline in this area so that the farmers can add value to their production.

Drop in fuel prices

Fuel prices in Panama experienced a drop of between three and four cents from Saturday, May 13. Gasoline of 95-octane costs $0.73 a liter, while 91-octane gasoline experienced a four cent drop to $0.70 a liter, Panama’s Energy Ministry said.

Price contrals remain

Price controls remain in place, despite the fact that businessmen, producers and traders anticipated that, with the fall in inflation recorded in recent months, regulation would cease. The extension of the measure for more than two years led to 1,900 companies that make up the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) filing a petition requesting provisional suspension of Executive Decree 165 of July 1, 2014, which establishes price control.

$1,376 million in 2016

The subsidies granted by the government to different sectors of Panamanian society amounted to a total of $1,376 million in 2016, figures from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) show. Last year, 54.4% of the subsidies were aimed at households; 32.3%, to finance several programs of the Social Security Fund; and 13.3%, to stimulate the investments of companies, according to the official report.

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