Week in Review April 18

OIL SEARCH

Panama’s Cabinet approved seismic surveys in the open sea to determine if there is oil or natural gas reserves, a source from the National Energy Secretariat (SNE) told the news agency Efe. The geophysical survey will take place only 15 kilometers from the coasts and not on the mainland, in a 40,000 kilometer layout, according to a document from the SNE that indicates that the first analysis will catalog the areas chosen as potentially active in hydrocarbons.

BANANA PACT

President Juan Carlos Varela urged the National Assembly to approve a $100 million contract between the Panamanian State and the company, Banapiña de Panamá, S.A. (Subsidiary of the transnational Del Monte) after the contract was countersigned by the Comptroller, Federico Humbert. The contract aims to develop a project reactivating banana production in the areas of Barú-Alanje and Chiriquí Grande-Bocas del Toro.

NEW POWER

Panamanians have been witnessing year after year the consecutive increase in the cost of electric energy, but from 2018 the government has the opportunity to give the public a more economic service due to the generation of energy with natural gas.

DUTY MAY END

President Juan Carlos Varela and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, agreed to work on flexibilization of decree 1745 on imports, one of two rules that the South American country put into effect after the World Trade Organization (WTO) removed the mixed tariff on imports of textiles and footwear from the Colon Free Zone.

CANAL DEBT

Panama Canal liabilities totaled $3,618 million in September 2016, according to financial reports audited by the independent firm Ernst & Young. The audited financial report included the statement of financial position, income statements, comprehensive income, changes in equity, cash flow and a summary of the main accounting policies applied, in addition to the explanatory notes.

TRADE BLOC

A Latin American economic bloc would total $5 trillion and would be the fifth largest economy in the world, said the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) stressing the importance of strengthening regional integration. “The region has a lot of potential … if integrated, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world behind the US, the European Union, China and Japan,” stressed Santiago Levy, vice president of Sectors and Knowledge of the IDB in the framework of the annual meeting of the body that was held in Asunción.

EXPORTS GROW

A 4.4% increase in exports was registered in January 2017, compared to the same period in 2016, which represented sales abroad of $2,037 million, according to figures compiled by the Comptroller’s Office. According to statistics, in January, 2017, exports of goods closed at $48,021,000, while for the same period of 2016 they stood at $45,984,000 having a positive result in the first month of 2017.

METRO MOVES

The advances of the works in the area of yards and workshops of the Line 2 of the Panama Metro, located in the suburb of 24th of December, presents a 20% advance, it was reported by the office of Public Relations of the institution through a statement. Journalists from different national media were given a verification tour of the work, started on October 5, 2015.

BONDS DUE

The government of Panama, in the next four years, must cover debt maturities of $5,205 million, representing 24.1% of total indebtedness. This year $976 million is due; in 2018 it will be $1,160 million; in 2019, $1,079 million and in 2020 the amount will be $1,990 million.

PHONES PAY

Cable & Wireless Panamá, S.A. (CWP) disclosed the financial and operating results for the period ended December 31, 2016. During that period, the telecommunications company reported revenues of $478 million and $189 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, CWP said in a report.

MISSING

Transparency International (TI) has asked the US State Department for information on the status of the extradition request of former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) formally submitted by the government of Panama in September 2016.

“ROBBERY”

Martinelli described as a “robbery” by President Juan Carlos Varela, the confiscation of the helicopter with license plate N1626L, property of the company Silver Wings, that was transferred from Mexico to installations of the National Air Service (SENAN). Martinelli, in a voice note sent to journalist Alvarado Alvarado, reiterated that the helicopter was bought with licit money that had nothing to do with Odebrecht.

BRIDGE MONEY

The State-owned National Highway Company (ENA) benefits from increased traffic on the corridors. At the end of the year it will seek the financing of the fourth bridge over the Canal. The ENA generated revenues of $154 million in 2016, an increase of $22 million or 17% more than in the previous year.

BRIBE TRACING

A meeting to gather information on the Odebrecht case was held by the Attorney General, Kenya Porcell, with the director of the Basle Institute, Gretta Fenner, and the consultant Stefan Lenz, ex-prosecutor who took on the case in Switzerland. The meeting is part of the judicial assistance that Panama has requested from Switzerland, the United States and Brazil, for the corruption scandals generated by bribery that Odebrecht is accused of. In January, Porcell reported that 17 people were charged: eight Panamanian businessmen, five foreigners, three former officials and one private banking officer.

NEW MARKET

Some 178 positions for peddlers were opened in what was formerly known as “the crossing” of Calidonia and that is now known as “the Market of the Crossing”, a place conditioned for the peddlers to leave the streets and settle in a better position. The new posts have a dimension of 2.5 square meters and five square meters. They are made of galvanized metal, with ventilation, easy for customers to order merchandise and are decorated with the official logo of the 500 years of Panama City, to be completed in 2019.

SAVED DEPUTY

The full Supreme Court yesterday rejected opening a criminal investigation against the deputy and president of the National Assembly, Rubén De León, for alleged false donations. Judges Abel Zamorano, Angela Russo, Hernán De León, Cecilio Cedalise and José Ayú Prado voted against the admission of the complaint filed by lawyer Ernesto Cedeño. Judges Oydén Ortega, Jerónimo Mejía and Harry Díaz voted in favor of admission.

TECH LAG

Panama is the first Central American country to assimilate new technologies, but with a delay of four years, informed an expert of Deloitte who presented the global projections of the firm for 2017. The businessman, Diego Eleta, of Deloitte, detailed the results of the annual “Trends and Technology” of the research firm, founded in 1845 in London.

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