Isthmian Update September 9

Higher Fees

The consortium, Mec Shipyards, property of the Kardonski family, which operates the Balboa dry dock, formerly Braswell Drydock, asked the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) to reduce the fee, signed in 2013, to operate these facilities. It also calls for a reconsideration of the concession’s variable fees.

Newspaper scandal

Mayte Pellegrini, formerly of the brokerage firm, Financial Pacific, a stocks and shares company, visited the Prosecutor’s office in the Avesa Building, as part of the investigation into the case known as “New Business”, related to the purchase of the newspaper group, Editora Panamá América (Epasa). Last week the Office of the Prosecutor Against Organized Crime issued an order against West Valdes (already in custody) Iván Clare, Mariel Rodríguez, Aaron Mizrachi, Tse Yung Li and Navin Baktha for the same investigation that is being carried out as part of this process.

Mega coastal strip

The possibility of expanding the Coastal Strip from Paitilla to Tocumen is under study and may be evaluated by the new administration, said the Mayor of Panama City, José Blandón. The study is being carried out by the World Bank (WB) and technicians of the Municipality of Panama. The works will cost around $120 million. The project is part of the action plan for the city, which is a plan for the city for the next 20 years and should be completed in 2035.

Training center for Bocas

Before the end of the year the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) plans to put in operation a training center in the community of Ojo de Agua in the district of Almirante, Bocas del Toro. To make this initiative a reality, the administrator of the ATP, Gustavo Him, met in Almirante with the businessman César Romero, who will make available the training facilities. The center will offer courses in hotel operation, customer service and tourism guides, among others.

No salt?

The Ministry of Health (MINSA) and the Association of Restaurants and Allied Groups of Panama (ARAP) said that they will begin a plan to reduce salt consumption in the country, with the aim of providing a better quality of life to the population. The implementation of the strategy is that the 400 restaurant members of the ARAP will proceed to remove salt from the tables, leaving its consumption to customers’ discretion.

Economic X-Ray for the financial sector

On September 8, Panama will host the V Latin American Banking and Economy Congress (CLEC) promoted by the Latin American Federation of Banks with the purpose of analyzing the current economic situation and the factors that influence the performance of the banking and financial sector in the region. The event, which brings together economists and bankers, will address issues of relevance, such as the economic and financial integration of Latin America, how economic cycles and country risk affect the banking industry and the impact of new trade taxes and monetary measures of the United States in Latin American countries and what measures can be taken to mitigate them.

Digital era

Technological innovation and digital convergence is transforming the way the public has access to financial services and how clients interact with banking. In this context, the agenda of the II International Financial Summit will focus on those topics. The event is organized by the Panama Banking Association (ABP) and takes place from September 7 to 8, 2017.

South Korean ties

An official delegation of the Panama International Shipping Registry is visiting Busan – one of the six metropolitan cities that, together with nine provinces, make up South Korea. The delegation’s aim is to promote economic development, strengthen the transfer of knowledge and existing relations. Busan has the fifth largest port in the world, with a capacity to handle up to 13.2 million TEUs (20ft containers) per year.

Red Devils’ Curse

The process to get rid of the so-called “Red Devil” buses (old US school buses) from the public transport system and the payment of the indemnification of more than $94.7 million, still continues to cause problems. Currently the process is the subject of a criminal investigation, an audit by the Comptroller’s Office and it could even lead to a process of administrative recovery by the Attorney General’s Office, given the possible existence of a patrimonial injury.

Bridges and homes

A series of investments that exceed $500 million, including schools, highways, bridges and new homes, is being run by the administration of President Juan Carlos Varela in areas of the Ngäbe Buglé region which are difficult to access. According to the Secretary of Goals, Jorge González, in the 38 months of the current government, it has invested more than $200 million in projects that include improvements in school infrastructure, new schools and elimination of ranch classrooms.

Cheap fares

A further $299.5 million has been earmarked by the State in the last four years to keep bus fares at 25 cents and $1.25 on the Northern and Southern corridors. According to data from Mi Bus, in 2016 the ticket subsidy, which comes from the budget of the Transit and Land Transport Authority (ATTT) was $68.435 million, while, for this year it is estimated to increase to $75.33 million.

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