The removal of 51 kiosks of peddlers in Calidonia generated a violent confrontation between riot units and small traders. The kiosks, which occupied part of the sidewalks, had been recorded in a previous census as being abandoned structures or owned by foreign citizens who according to the Constitution cannot pursue this activity.

Tax collection

The National Treasury received 82.6% or $117.6 million more for the collection of income tax from legal persons during the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period of 2015, reported the Department of Revenue (DGI). “This increase is due mainly to the efforts that have been launched by the DGI through telephone contacts made by the Center for Collection Management, as well as through various audits and operational verifications of correct billing which have been made at national level”, said the General Director of Revenue, Publio Cortés.

Sacyr after the fourth bridge

ACS and Sacyr bid for the construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, valued at $1,000 million (about 890 million euros) it was noted by the Spanish Minister of Development, Ana Pastor. Sacyr will join a consortium with the Korean Hyundai company for this project, while the ACS group will do it through its subsidiary Dragados. In total, the Ministry of Public Works of Panama has prequalified a total of six consortiums to bid for the contract for design and construction of this bridge, which also included two Chinese groups.

Barro Blanco problems

The test filling (flooding) of the Barro Blanco project has begun under tight security, Roberto Meana, director of the National Authority of Public Services (ASEP) reported. Meana said the project can only enter the commercial stage when an agreement has been reached with the local indigenous population. He made calls for peace, because the work will benefit many people. Meanwhile, after the ASEP announcement, Clementina Perez, spiritual leader of the Church of Mama Tatda, said that a confrontation between Indians and the government was likely. Perez together with leaders of the Ngäbe-Bugle Movement April 10, headed by Ricardo Miranda, said they would not allow this reservoir to be filled.

Uncertain fate

The future of the Cold Chain is still uncertain. There are problems with the structures, occupancy permits, lack of access roads, as well as persisting deficiencies in water and electricity supply. All these factors have prevented the overall completion of the project. Almost two years ago the current government received two markets as part of State assets and only the one in Chiriqui is working. And of the four post-harvest centers those in Cerro Punta and Volcan, also in Chiriqui, are the only ones active.

Stable economy

Panama’s economy remains stable, despite the investigation into the Mossack Fonseca law firm which has been questioned for alleged malpractices. An anonymous source disclosed millions of Mossack Fonseca’s documents and gave them to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The scandal has not had a major impact on the financial system, said the deputy minister of Finance, Eyda Varela de Chinchilla, in London, England. The official added that to date there have been no reported adverse effects in the evolution of bank deposits and the State risk premium securities in international markets.

Chinese investment

The China Landbridge Group made its first large scale investment in Panama with the construction and operation of a new port on Margarita Island, Colón. The first terminal, in addition to being able to handle neo-panamax ships, will feature a high-quality logistics park to meet the significant demand that will be generated by the Canal expansion.

Alternatives for La Estrella

Downsizing or late payment of fortnightly salaries, or closure of the newspapers, are aspects that have not been contemplated, said Eduardo Quiros, Executive President of Grupo Editorial El Siglo and La Estrella (GESE) during the Face-to-Face program on RPC TV. This comes after the United States Treasury included the conglomerate of the Waked family, who are the owners of GESE, on the Clinton list on May 5.

Conference Center

For the second year, Panama has become the host of two major conferences, the TecnoEdificios and Refriaméricas 2016, which will be held on June 2 and 3 at the Atlapa Convention Center, highlighting technologies that make it possible to improve the quality of life of users of buildings, industrial and commercial centers.

Information exchange

The Governments of Japan and Panama have reached a tentative agreement on the exchange of tax information, said the Japanese Ministry of Finance. The announcement comes nearly two months after the leaks of the so-called “Panama Papers” which reveal the existence of thousands of opaque “offshore” companies linked to personalities from around the world, including heads of State and government, which in certain cases, have been used for tax evasion or money laundering.

Banking support

A group of financial institutions, with the participation of three of the largest banks in the country (Banistmo-Bancolombia, Banco General and Global Bank), with multilateral connections agreed to give a syndicated loan to AES and finance a natural gas electric power plant, that will be built in the sector of Cristobal, Colon province. AES will generate 381 megawatts in Colón through a generation plant that will use natural gas and technology which will reuse the heat of the exhaust gas turbine to produce steam and fuel in the production of electricity.

Uniformed legal system

In four months the accusatory penal system (SPA) will be completely installed in the country, and President Juan Carlos Varela has pledged to provide the resources necessary for its operation. “Our government will give all the necessary resources and logistical, technical and financial support needed for the implementation of the accusatory penal system from September and thus it will operate throughout the country,” said the president during his opening speech before the Congress of Attorney Generals of Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, where regional experience in implementing the new system of justice will be analyzed.

Miscarriage of justice?

Forbes magazine, one of the most influential businesses publications in the world, published in the United States for a hundred years and with millions of readers, dedicated one of its articles to discussing Mayer Mizrachi, who was described as a young computer businessman who managed to create an application capable of competing with the popular Whatsapp and that he has been detained for five months in the dangerous La Picota prison in Colombia.

Safety measures

The National Economic Council (CENA) approved the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s issuance of new securities in the domestic capital market for the amount of up to $1,100 million. Thus, the Panamanian State seeks to partially or totally mitigate the refinancing risk of the Republic of Panama for fiscal year 2018, to pay the costs, fees and expenses associated with the implementation of this transaction, and partially cover the financing needs of the State budget in the years when operations have improved liability management.

Rosier outlook

Maintaining economic stability is the main priority of some national companies this year. Several are betting that the situation (although not bad, as manifested by some), will improve in the coming months and can thus achieve a positive boost in profits. Glenis Pinzon, president of the American Accounting Association of Panama (AIC), said the economic policy for many companies is to continue active and not lower the quality of their products or service.

Environmental damage

The “Coordinadora de Ciudadanos de La Chorrera” has introduced a new environmental criminal complaint against Panama Generating Ltd. It claims that it has been technically proven by certificates issued by competent authorities and, after verification, that the company has again committed a crime against the environment to the detriment of La Chorrera and Arraijan residents living within the area of impact of the thermal electricity generation plant.

Protecting the supply chain

The Panamanian government launched a program of Customs certification to raise the competitive level of foreign trade in Panama and protect against drug trafficking, trafficking in arms and explosives, among other risks, said an official source. This is the Organization of the American States (OAS) tool aimed at companies that implement preventive safety measures to protect their supply chain measures, the Panamanian presidency reported.

Lack of confidence

The administration of Tocumen, S.A. has had to reinforce the guarantees supporting the issuance of debt of $575 million placed in international markets, on May 13, to maintain investor confidence. The accusation against the Waked International Group, S.A. (Wisa) by the US Treasury caused uncertainty among investors, as the property of the Abdul Waked group generates 7.7% of the proceeds of the terminal.

Level playing field

The Deputy Foreign Minister, Luis Miguel Hincapie, stressed to the representative of the Government of France, Jean-Pierre Bel, the importance of working on an equal basis to resolve differences between the two countries through diplomatic channels and advance the bilateral agenda and effective cooperation on tax, without the pressure generated by being placed on a discriminatory list. Hincapie said that Panama has taken significant steps to reform its legal framework and to strengthen its service platform and shield it against illegal activities on fiscal and financial matters.

More judges

A total of 747 lawyers have submitted their applications to aspire to the new courts that have been created in the judiciary organ, before the entry in force of the accusatory criminal justice system throughout the country. It has created positions such as guarantee judges, trial judges, judges of compliance, appeals judges, heads of court officers, public defenders and advocates of victims.

Food shortage

Panama’s dependence on imports for local consumption endangers the availability and security of food. This situation is reflected in the increase of the trade deficit balance by 8.4% in the last five years, according to statistics from the Central American Integration Secretariat (SIEC). The issue brought warnings from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the possibility of future food shortages globally because of climate change.

More jobs

There was an increase of 7% in employment contracts recorded during the first quarter of 2016 at the headquarters of the Ministry of Labour (Mitradel) compared with the same period of 2015. Data from the Department of Statistics show that 97,234 contracts were sealed. compared to the 90,841 in 2015.

New proposals

The Competitiveness Council welcomed new proposals from the private sector to strengthen the competitiveness of the country against other nations in the region, in order to maintain economic growth. At the meeting, the Secretary of Competitiveness and Logistics, Miguel Angel Esbrí, said that international measurements are in favor of Panama, such as that of the World Economic Forum in its “Global Competitiveness” index, that keeps the country at position 50 out of 140, surpassed only by Chile in the region.

Isthmian Update May 26: Positive steps

“It is a positive step that must be taken into account by all,” said the head of fiscal affairs of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Pascal Saint-Amans. Saint-Amans, who participated in the workshop held by Panamanian Deputy Foreign Minister, Luis Miguel Hincapie, stressed that a “very valuable” commitment was made by Panama to proceed with the automatic exchange of tax information from 2018