Isthmian Update August 11

Onion rules change

The rules for marketing onions, one of the main ingredients of Panamanian food, have changed. Producers and traders will not be able to sell onions after 120 days i.e. four months from their harvest and will not be able to store the product for more than the required time.

Education reform needed

After several decades of rejection of changes in educational plans, Marvin Castillo, a young Panamanian director of Fundesteam, a group focused on the development of robotics, argues that the time has come for Panama to open the debate for a reform of the education system. Castillo questions that in the XXI century Panamanians continue to educate their children with curricula that were already out of date in the last century. “This is not productive and is illogical,” he says.

Therapy clinics affected by migratory wave

The director of Health, Itza Barahona de Mosca, explained that the migratory wave in the country affects the attention offered in antiretroviral therapy clinics against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Megaliances both threat and opportunity

Lowering costs and improving competitiveness are two of the factors that led the world’s leading shipping companies to merge and form three megaliances. At the same time, the strategy represents opportunities and threats for Panama. This was established in the first discussion of 2017 organized by the Board of Directors of the Panamanian Association of Supply Chain Executives (Apeca) entitled “Megaliances between shipping companies and the challenges of maritime transport.”

Consumption pattern changing

Unemployment, the high cost of living and economic slowdown are factors that are in some way changing the pattern of consumption of Panamanians, who remain cautious when making their purchases, explain some experts. The director of Economic Affairs of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, Manuel Ferreira, indicated that market studies indicate that there is a decrease in purchases in supermarkets of 11.8% and in traditional markets of 6%, and a rise at convenience points of 2%.

Company corruption should be investigated

Workers marched through the center of the capital to protest against the “institutionalized” corruption that has uncovered scandals such as that of the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and to demand the convening of a Constituent Assembly. “The Odebrecht scandal is the straw that has broken the patience of the Panamanians, but Odebrecht is not the only company that has committed acts of corruption in the country. We must investigate all,” the general secretary Of the National Confederation of Trade Union Unity (Conusi), Genaro López, told the news agency EFE.

Colón residential project 52% complete

The ambitious project of urban renewal of the Panamanian city of Colón, with a cost of almost $600 million that includes the construction of 5,000 houses for those displaced from the city center, has already reached 52% completion, according to Government sources. The head of the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning, Mario Etchelecu, said in a statement that the residential project will benefit more than 25,000 people who have lived in precarious conditions in Colón, one of the poorest areas in Panama despite harboring ports and the largest free zone in the hemisphere.

Island prison to be remodeled

The Ministry of Security (Minseg) announced that the controversial island prison of Punta Coco will be remodeled and the highly dangerous prisoners detained in it will be transferred to the maximum security pavilion of La Gran Joya. The number of prisoners in this prison has never exceeded twenty, and last year there were 12, according to the data provided by the authorities.

No work permit fines

While for business owners the approval in third debate of Bill 475, which increases fines for those who hire foreign labor without a work permit, leads to a process of inclusion of more skilled labor, the standard is insufficient. The Bill, approved in third debate in the National Assembly, establishes that any company or trade that contracts informal migrants will be punished with fines for each worker in a condition of illegality. In the first instance it will be with a fine of $500, the second time with $1,000 and for the third time $10,000, without considering the number of foreign workers.

Tourist arrivals down

Despite the fact that earlier this year the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) launched the international promotion campaign in 12 cities in the United States, Spain, Montreal and Toronto, Canada, tourist arrivals in the country have fallen by 7.5% in the first five months of this year, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

House arrest, not jail

Judge James Corro yesterday granted house arrest to the former Supreme Court magistrate, Alejandro Moncada Luna, sentenced to 60 months in prison since March 5, 2015 for crimes of unjustified enrichment and falsehood, but the prosecution has appealed the measure. Meanwhile an appeals court will finally determine whether Alejandro Moncada Luna, the former judge of the Supreme Court, will be given house arrest. This was decided by a compliance judge at a hearing held at El Renacer prison.

Stop blaming the execitive

In the midst of complaints made by the director of the Social Security Fund about irregularities in the institution, Labor Minister Luis Ernesto Carles made a controversial call yesterday through his Twitter account. “Stop blaming the executive or the comptroller, assume management responsibility and solve problems for people. CSS, you need answers,” wrote the minister who in recent days has been active in the media defending the management of the government.

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