Week in Review – November 7

FREE AGAIN

The US embassy announced that restrictions on newspapers La Estrella and El Siglo, two of Panama’s most prestigious and long-standing dailies, had been lifted after its owner, Abdul Waked, transferred 51% of his shares to a foundation, a measure that guarantees the continuity of the media, in what has been interpreted as a victory of freedom of expression.

SAVE FUND

If the law does not receive any modification, the savings instrument will not receive contributions from the surpluses generated by the Panama Canal. In the first eight months of the year, the Panama Savings Fund (FAP) has achieved a yield of 4.42%, corresponding to a net profit of $55.5 million.

TEUs CLIMB

After a sharp drop last year following the expansion of the Panama Canal, the container movement of TEUs (twenty feet containers) registered positive numbers from January to August 2017. Up until the eighth month of this year, the container movement in the National Port System increased by 12.2%, compared to the same period last year, when there was a decrease of 13.0%, according to a report from the Statistics and Census Institute (INEC) of the Comptroller’s Office.

US FLOPS

The legal agreement reached by the Panamanian businessman, Nidal Waked, frees his companies, against which there are no charges and frees him from the accusation of money laundering from drug trafficking, said his legal representative, Yasser Williams Arosemena. According to the lawyer, his client accepted having falsified invoices, for which a credit line was obtained from a Panamanian bank to make transfers with which he paid, at a bank in Florida, the financing of his companies in Miami. During that transaction, according to both the prosecution and the defense, there was no injury against the banks, since capital and interest were canceled. Attorney Francisco Carreira said that the agreement reached by Waked, who had the money laundering charge from drug trafficking dismissed, has made the US ambassador in Panama, John Feeley, very ill because in May last year, the diplomat said Waked led an organization “that has laundered money from drug trafficking,” and that “the United States has accused Nidal Waked as one of the world’s most important drug traffickers and launderers.”

TESTING

Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) which built the third set of locks, filed two requests for claims in arbitration amounting to $4,855 million, but these are not recognized by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) which alleges that the contractor failed to comply with the legal process. The consortium reiterated these two claims to the dispute resolution Board without having been resolved, submitting them in arbitration, an action that goes beyond what was agreed in the contract, according to the ACP.

NEW RULES

The Panama Canal Pilots’ Union reached an agreement with the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) administration for the more efficient use of tugboats in the new locks of the Expanded Canal and to increase the tug availability to attend the needs of the operations in the locks of Agua Clara and Cocolí. Londin Rankin, general secretary of the Panama Canal Pilots Union (UPCP) reported that after evaluating the operations of approximately 2,000 Neopanamax vessels in the new canal, rules were determined on the use of tugs, implemented from October 21.

SEARCHING

Tocumen S.A., will return to try its luck in the stock market in 2018, two years after issuing bonds for $575 million, days after the international scandal that was generated by the inclusion of Waked International, S.A. (WISA) the largest duty-free operator of the air terminal, on the “Clinton List” for suspicion of being part of a money laundering network.

MAGNET

Five new companies will establish their regional headquarters in Panama, adding an investment of $3 million and up to 75 positions of employment in their first year of operation, thanks to the competitive advantages offered by Panama as the great connection of Latin America to the world and the benefits of the Law on Multinational Enterprises (SEM).

EXPORTING

From January to August 2017, Panama’s exports showed positive numbers compared to previous years, reveals the latest report from the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC of the Comptroller’s Office. Up until the eighth month of this year, the bulk of the country’s exports increased by 13.6%. According to figures from the official entity, showing that this is the highest percentage increase recorded in recent years in the same period analyzed.

HELP HUB

The Bill creating the Regional Logistics Center for Humanitarian Assistance (CLRAH) which will be in Panama was presented in the National Assembly. The initiative will shorten the response times for cooperation between countries of the region in emergency situations and disasters of great magnitude. The Bill was delivered by the Minister of Government, María Luiza Romero.

SEA SEARCH

Panama adopted under Law 29 of April 18, 2013, the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979 (SAR Convention) which was founded in the German city of Hamburg in 1979 and is promoted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The signing of this important agreement was held as an event prior to the International Disaster Reduction Day, with the aim of promoting a global culture for disaster reduction, including raising awareness among governments and individuals to take measures to minimize these risks, such as their prevention and mitigation and includes preparedness activities.

CARGO LAW

Panama has never had a legal framework to regulate land cargo transport in the national territory, a fundamental component to distribute cargo arriving by sea and land and to position the country as a competitive and world-class logistics hub.

VERY FISHY

A census that will allow the updating of data on the artisanal fishing population in the country is now being carried out by the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP). This was announced by the administrator of ARAP, Zuleika Pinzón, explaining that there are no current, complete and/or reliable data on the quantity, specific activities and productivity of artisanal fishing.

GAS COOKING

The Costa Norte power plant of the company Gas Natural Atlántico, a subsidiary of AES and using natural gas, will start operating in August 2018 and not in April as originally contemplated in the resolution of the final license granted by the National Authority of Public Services (AES).

HUMAN RIGHTS

“The State is committed to the promotion, development and strengthening of human rights,” said President Juan Carlos Varela during the official installation of the 58th Special Session of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). Varela said that the government’s commitment is to respect human rights of Panamanians and includes the development of public policies with a comprehensive approach and State vision, in order to guarantee their welfare, security and social peace.

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