Week in Review
In January he Panamanian port system moved 619,187 20-foot container equivalents (TEUs), 122,764 more than during the first month of 2011. The improvement is 24.7%. According to the Comptroller’s Office, the total cargo transported amounted to 6.25 million metric tons, a 32.8% increase.
FISH SALE IN BOSTON
Panamanian companies participated at the International Boston Seafood Show 2012, and materialized business for about $2.5 million. Camaronera de Coclé, Farallon Aquaculture, Salva Mar, Rocmar Seafood, Ocean Star, Codatlan, Grupo TWT and Ceviche Pesca Fina contacted potential buyers, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
WORKERS WANT SHARES
After 15 years, a group of former employees of the ports continue the legal battle to hold equity interests in Panama Ports Company (PPC), a company that in 1997 won the tender for management and operation of the ports of Balboa and Cristobal. The former employees of these ports have filed two lawsuits in the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court. The Association of Transport and Allied Port Workers of former employees, reported that one of their demands went to the Court on February 13, 2011 and the second on February 16, 2012.
TRAVEL COSTS SHOWN
Contrary to other state institutions, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), administered by Alberto Aleman Zubieta, makes an annual report on travel spending abroad. In 2011 the expenditure amounted to $1,256,000, an increase of 36% over fiscal year 2010.
A total of 1,394 vessels crossed the Panama Canal in the first month of the year, reported the monthly Main Economic Indicators of the Comptroller’s Office. The figure is 4% higher than in the same month last year, when there were 1,340 ships. Most of the vessels that crossed the Canal in January were high draft (1,195). The toll revenues generated by these transits rose to $162 million, $6.7 million more than in 2011.
TELEPHONE, TV TAXED
Bill 423 which sets a tax to cover underground wiring and infrastructure of telecommunications and pay TV, would fund, in addition, 50% of product allocations of band frequency for new service of mobile telecommunications, according to an amendment proposed in the National Assembly. The government has opened several fronts to get the funds needed to remove the overhead wires in five areas throughout the country. For the power lines $38 million is needed that would come from the fees paid by users, and now it plans to get the money it takes to bury telecommunication cables through a grant by the mobile operators that would bring in more millions of dollars.
CFZ LAND VALUED
While amending the bill to permit the sale of land in the Colon Free Zone (CFZ), the Government contracted two companies to do the appraisals and record the land that would be sold. Progress Inspections, hired by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, will make the appraisal, and another company, whose name it has not chosen to reveal, was hired to record lots.
US AMBASSADOR ARRIVES
The United States will have a new ambassador to Panama. On March 29, Congress confirmed Jonathan Farrar to exercise that office on the isthmus, as well as naming Phyllis Powers as the next ambassador to Nicaragua.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI) endorsed last February the $100 penalty and a public reprimand against the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Francisco Jose España, who headed the Accounting Technical Board in June 2011. España, who filed an appeal, was admonished for lack of ethics when performing an audit with a CPA firm that harmed Grupo Económico Suplidores Zona Libre, S. A., which was forced to close down.
IMPORT FREEZE BROKEN
The government has failed to fulfill another of its promises. Along with farmers and merchants, it had agreed to suspend the importation of potatoes and onions for the first six months of the year during the height of the local harvest. But in the first three months of the year, 44,297 quintals of onions have entered the country, placing in danger the start of the harvest in Chiriqui. A committee that was devised by the Government with the private sector to correct the distortions in the marketing process and reduce the cost of food for consumers. The government breached the agreement.
AHEAD ON TECHNOLOGY
The World Economic Forum published the “Global Report on Information Technology 2011-2012”, which measures the impact of information technology and communications (ICT) for development and competitiveness of nations. Panama ranked in position 57 out of 142 countries surveyed.
TAX FLOWS IN
In the first two months of the year the State raised $63.2 million more than in the same period last year. However, it did not cover the ambitious projections that it had set in the budget. Revenues were $737.8 million, $78 million less than expected.
STRIKE HITS METRO
Some 114 workers who manufacture the segments (rings of concrete and steel that are used to surface the Panama subway tunnel) and representatives of the Line One Consortium negotiated an end to a strike. The work stoppage was concentrated in the factory on the Centennial Highway.