Week in Review – Vol. 34 No. 21

National newsbriefs


On January 15, 2016 the future date of delivery of the Canal expansion will be defined. That day it will be known if the new locks will be completed by April, as planned in the last calculation, or if the work will be delayed due to leaks that were detected last August. According to the timetable presented by Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), on January 15 they must complete the repairs on six hinges of the Pacific locks where leaks were detected and that have further delayed commissioning the project, which should have been ready in August 2014.


The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced that it has 16 tug captains trained for maneuvers in the new expanded canal, three of whom are now instructors. According to a statement from the ACP, after three years in which the 16 tug captains were trained, three were “assigned to the Center for Simulation, Research and Maritime Development (Sidmar), which will serve as a multiplier of this training program”.


The Panamanian port system comprising four container terminals on the Atlantic side and two on the Pacific side, moved 5,821,000 TEUs (20-foot units) up until last October, with a recovery of 3.4% over the figures achieved in the same period of 2014. These results include the movement of local containers (imports and exports) and the movements of transshipment containers, according to reports by the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) on the port operators. Of this 90% is transshipment that goes to other countries, while the remaining 10% remains in Panama.


The integration of the countries of the region to achieve sustainable development is coordinating logistics and mobility. This emerges from a new document of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which highlights the sensitivity of the cost and transport of perishable products. This, together with other disadvantages in mobility, has taken off the market many products traded in Latin America and the Caribbean.


The Corcione Group company whose manager, Nicolas Corcione, is on the Board of the Panama Canal Authority, is mentioned in a new investigation being conducted by the Fourth Anti-corruption prosecutor against the former head of the National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (Senacyt) Ruben Berrocal, for the alleged commission of crimes against the public administration. The process in the Attorney General’s Office revolves around Berrocal, a cousin of former President Ricardo Martinelli, in which Senacyt provided the Corcione Group a contract for a feasibility study on the construction of a complex of buildings for Senacyt in the City of Knowledge However, the same contract with the same task was agreed with Carmanace Investments for $250,000.


The expansion project of Tocumen International Airport, which recorded a 60% advance of construction, consolidates Panama as a center of development and networking. The design, developed by the British company Foster + Partners, which combined the tropical style with high technology, continues its construction phase. In a combination of power and precision. The assembly of the metal roof structure begins with the lifting from the ends to the center of the structure, using high quality materials and high precision equipment, operated by a qualified and certified Panamanian team.


While the international press is echoing the opening of companies in Panama, relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are also doing so in our country and the Panamanian government is being asked to investigate the resources managed by these companies. The former vice president of the Republic, Arturo Vallarino, considers that the State, being a signatory to international conventions on money laundering, is obliged to investigate the situation.


The Special Prosecutor for Crimes against the Environment and Territorial Planning of the Attorney General’s Office filed charges in Darien against two subjects, both of Panamanian nationality, for a crime against the environment and land management, trying to remove 387 logs of cocobolo wood.


Most of the coffee production in the country is now in the hands of private individuals who produce 78.6% of Panamanian coffee, according to the Comptroller’s Office. Today in Panama there are a total of 16,680 hectares of planted coffee, of which 13,120 are in the hands of individuals, 3,490 held by companies and 70 in the hands of small farmer organization, according to the reports.


Through a statement, the Panamanian Football Federation (FEPAFUT) made it public knowledge that it is not linked to any investigation by the US authorities in relation to corruption. “The Panamanian Football Federation has not been contacted by anyone and is not under any investigation … knowing the details of all this that is happening,” said Peter Chaluja, president of the FEPAFUT. “What we know is that these are actions that have been taken against individuals, not against the institution,” he added.


With the process of moving equipment, Generadora del Istmo SA (GENISA) resumed work on the hydroelectric project of Barro Blanco, located on the Tabasará River in Tole, east of the province of Chiriqui. This comes after the lifting of the suspension of the work that lasted more than 190 days. The last agreement that the government and representatives of the Ngäbe Bugle people came on August 10 this year, and was to allow the project to continue in certain parts. However, it can not operate until a government technical committee and other indigenous groups agree on a number of issues that continue to cause disputes between the parties.


The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Meliton Arrocha, recently participated in the meeting of the Council of Ministers of Economic Integration (COMIECO) in San Salvador, to follow up on the topics included in the work plan of the Presidency Pro Tempore for the second half of 2015, which is chaired by the Republic of El Salvador. During this meeting the COMIECO resolutions on technical regulation of fertilizers and soil for agricultural use and registration requirements were approved


In the agricultural period 2014-2015, the sugar cane harvest fell 4.1%. In this period, the harvest stood at 2.6 million tons, less than the 2.7 tonnes of the 2013-2014 period, reveal figures from the Comptroller’s Office. The cane harvest declined even though the number of hectares planted increased. In the latter period, the area planted reached 41,423 hectares, while in the previous period, 2013-2014, it totaled 40,274 hectares.


The protracted electricity interconnection project between Panama and Colombia continues slowly, facing bureaucratic hurdles and environmental debates in our country. In fact, the Colombian authorities have already given their approval to the route. But the Panamanian environmental side has still to approve the options presented for consideration.


The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) published in the Official Gazette, Resolution No. 27917-A, signed five years ago, that established as “confidential information” a series of data of financial, budgetary and administrative nature in this entity. Among the information that cannot be supplied to the public are reports of public debt, State staff appointments and summaries of financial statements. A new request to the MEF to report on the payment of dividends to the State by Panama Ports Company (PPC) was introduced by the lawyer, Pedro Meilan. He had also asked for the financial statements of PPC. The MEF refused financial statements saying it was confidential information. It also denied information concerning transactions or contracts signed by PPC.


In order to increase the tourism demand by 2016, Panama is negotiating with wholesale tour operators in the United States, where 13% of visitors currently come from. The general administrator of the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) Gustavo Him, reported that he is in New York to support the interest of Panama to work with American tour operators, where some great value agreements are being negotiated.


The tower to monitor carbon flow, located in the Panama Bay protected wetland area, in February, 2016, will provide the world with the first local reports on climate change, greenhouse effects and capturing carbon flux. This information will be collected through the tower, located within the Panamanian mangrove ecosystem.


Panama’s public debt at the end of October amounted to $19,998 million, representing an increase of $1,613 million compared with the same month of 2014, reported the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Of the total debt, almost half ($10,377 million) corresponds to global bonds.


The government hired the company Arquitechne directly for the comprehensive restoration of the old Government House of Colon for the amount of $4.6 million. The Government House was built between 1904 and 1906, becoming the first public monument building in the country after separation from Colombia. It is alleged that there were two attempts to tender; the first was declared void and in the second there was only one bidder, Arquitechne.


The Auxiliary Prosecutor, Marcelino Aguilar, imposed an injunction to notify the office of sixteen people who were part of two groups of juries, for having alleged links in the case of the network of corruption discovered in the judiciary. A source in the process said the new investigation shows that allegedly money was charged for influencing decisions of a judicial nature. A total of 35 people, including officials and private citizens, face a trial for the alleged commission of the offense against the public administration in the form of corruption.


Two words change everything: With the amendment. On Tuesday, the resolution ACP-JD-RM-14-711 of October 30, 2014, decides that the final decision on the port of Corozal rests with the Board of the Panama Canal, which will have the final word on any decision related to the construction of the maritime terminal.


From January to September 2015, Panama’s economy grew 4.3%, according to the Monthly Economic Activity Index (IMAE) estimated by the Comptroller’s Office. According to the official report, the economic activities of transport, storage and communication, electricity and water, construction, mining and quarrying, hotels and restaurants, fishing, financial intermediation and community, social and personal service activities were the best performers during the first nine months of the year.

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