Since Friday, June 14, the Colón Freeport has been officially open to tourists and residents, who will be able to buy merchandize in the shops which are participating in the scheme, without having to pay ITBM. The President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela, made the first purchase under this system, a 21 foot refrigerator for $700, which will be donated to a public school in Nuevo Tocumen, Panama East.
Under the Colón Freeport the 16 roads that constitute the urban quarter of Colón will house stores inscribed in the Single Investment Registry of Colón Freeport. So far five enterprises have become part of the scheme. Residents will be able to spend up to $1,000 in goods every six months without having to pay import tax. In order to have a control of who is buying and the amounts, the shops will have a technological platform to give automatic tax exemption to tourists and residents.
The technological platform, developed by CrimsonLogic, can connect with databases of the Electoral Tribunal, the Customs Authority, the National Migration Service, Inland Revenue Service, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry; for the cashier to find out the buyer’s status.
The aim of the freeport is to boost the Colón Free Zone (CFZ), that has suffered a five-year crisis, as well as the city of Colón, that currently is being renovated, after years of neglect. The authorities expect that this new plan will revive the once bustling town.
Some critics of the freeport, especially in the private sector, believe that it will not have a significant impact on the CFZ in the short term, but as more shops open branches in the 16 streets, a strong possibility exists that it will positively impact the economy of the area in the near future.
Requirements to buy in the freeport
The tourist must present his passport or boarding pass if he/she came by ship. In the case of a resident, he/she will need his identity card (cedula). The ID number (Cedula) will be input in the system which will connect it with the Electoral Tribunal database to confirm that it is valid and the person can buy in the port. With the platform each store will have goods inventory of what is for sale and keep a record of the buyer’s balance.