Isthmian Update October 12

Costly clean-up

It took millions of dollars to destroy the eight chemical weapons that had lain on the island of San Jose on the Pacific coast of Panama, in Panama Bay, since World War II. The outlay came out of the coffers of the United States, a country that left these shells with mustard, nerve gas and other toxic and poisonous agents that were part of the arsenal of its military bases in the old Canal Zone. This country used this now-private island as a testing ground.

Regional humanitarian assistance center

The bill creating the Regional Logistics Center for Humanitarian Assistance (CLRAH), which will be located in Panama, was presented on Monday in the National Assembly. The initiative which will shorten the response times for cooperation between countries of the region in emergency situations and disasters of great magnitude was proposed by the Minister of Government, Maria Luiza Romero, before the full assembly, the entity reported in a statement.

Gag bills

There have been attempts to limit freedom of speech in the thirty-nine months of the government of President Juan Carlos Varela. The proposals have come from different State institutions: the Executive and Legislative branches and even from autonomous entities, such as the Electoral Tribunal. The most recent was driven by the Administration of Justice, protected under the “urgency” to criminalize the behavior of people who published messages against public officials in the social networks.

New felony

In order to prevent Panama from entering the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “gray list” again, it must include fiscal crime in the Criminal Code and make money laundering a felony, as determined by the National Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism and Financing of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (CNBC), as well as implementing national strategies against money laundering.

Cutting edge surgery

The Social Security Fund (CSS) and the Institute of Women’s Health carried out a new medical procedure in which ovarian tissue was extracted from a woman suffering from breast cancer. The medical intervention is intended to protect the patient’s fertility by preserving the tissue in nitrogen tanks while she undergoes chemotherapy treatment. The plan is for that tissue to be replanted in the future, so the woman can regain reproductive and hormonal ovarian function.

A vocational institute

The Education Committee of the National Assembly approved, in first debate, Bill 551, creating the Higher Technical Specialized Institute (ITSE). Presented by the Executive, it establishes the legal status of ITSE, which will have academic, administrative, economic and financial autonomy, its own assets and the right to administer itself.

The new DGI tool

The Department of Revenue (DGI) reported on the implementation of the “Plan to control the massive compliance of taxpayer’s omissions”, sending more than 130,000 emails to taxpayers who have omitted the presentation of statements and reports that must be submitted obligatorily. The measure allows access to 100% of taxpayers who omit the filing of tax returns to the transfer of Furniture and Services Provision; (ITBMS) value added tax, Income tax and other reports. This constitutes an important step towards achieving regularization of the formal fulfillment of the taxpayer’s obligations´.

Cancer treatment

Tourists or illegal immigrants living with cancer will not be treated in the public health system. The reason, according to the director of the National Cancer Institute (ION), Aníbal Villa Real, is because Panama, as a State, cannot take on the burden of other nations and every day more Panamanians are sick with this disease. “The ION does not serve tourists or undocumented people,” he reiterated.

New logistics area

The tender for the construction of the first stage of the new cargo logistics area of Tocumen International Airport, which will consolidate the country as a logistics hub in the region, will take place in January 2018. The new facility will cost approximately $12 million, said the manager of the Panamanian air terminal, Carlos Duboy. He explained that the project comprises a logistics area and a duty free zone. It will be divided into three phases of construction in an approximate area of 45 to 50 hectares of land within the same airport.

Not a solution

Following the current situation of the National Aqueduct and Sewer Institute (Idaan) and the appointment of the new administrator, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) reiterated its willingness to collaborate with this institution and government authorities to achieve reforms that solve the problems faced by entities in charge of providing essential services to the public, such as water, sanitation, social security, transport and energy, which are not exclusive to the current administration and are not solved with the appointment of one person.

Conspiracy theory

Former president Ricardo Martinelli denounced that the strategy of President Juan Carlos Varela and his “gringo advisers”, who want put him and the leaders of the Democratic Change Party in prison, with the idea to take control of the party. Although Martinelli did not reveal the names of the advisors during the last election campaign, Varela was advised by Christian Ferry, 42, who served as deputy campaign director for John McCain in the 2008 White House election.

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