Week in Review
PANAMA LOOKS WEST
Panama hopes to join the Pacific Alliance in 2013. According to the website www.andina.com.pe, the Ambassador of Panama in Peru, Carlos Luis Linares, said the entry into force of the agreement signed by the two countries will facilitate the entry of Panama into this bloc of nations.
The third set of locks on the Panama Canal, as a cornerstone, includes the installation of gates, eight on the Pacific and the rest on the Atlantic, making a total of 50,000 tons of steel. These gates are different from current ones because they are much larger. The largest has a height of 33 meters, is 58 meters long and 10 meters wide, This was explained by Sergi Ametller, Electromechanical Works manager of Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC).
GIANT DREDGE HERE
The first postpanamax dredge in the world, the Charles Darwin, is in Panama for 16 days carrying out works on the navigation channel of the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal in Colon. Its mission is to broaden and deepen the navigation channel of the Atlantic entrance, but it also served as a maneuverability test to see how ships may enter the postpanamax Canal.
After eight months in hiding (first in Panama and then in Argentina), Valter Lavítola arrived in the Italian capital to face justice. “I’m worried about going to prison. I have fear, but I can not go back,” said Lavítola before boarding a plane in Buenos Aires, as reported by the Italian daily La Repubblica. The international corruption investigation being conducted by the Prosecutors in Naples and whose central figure is Lavítola, identified the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, as a person who received “profits and sums of cash”, in relation to the failed contract for the construction of four modular prisons in Panama for $176 million. According to investigations, the former Minister of Government, Roxana Méndez (now Mayoress of Panama City) and other unidentified Panamanian officials also have been bribed by Lavítola. A statement of the Government of Panama notes that Lavítola was introduced by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as a “collaborator”, but former Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini. called him a “meddler” who was not part of the official delegation. In this regard, the Vice-president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, reported that last November President Martinelli asked three times to appoint Lavitola as honorary consul, but he (Varela) objected and told this to Frattini.
The Minister of Security, Jose Raul Mulino, was appointed by the Executive as acting Foreign Minister from April 17 to 24, due to medical problems of the Panamanian Foreign Minister, Roberto Henriquez, who will undergo medical treatment, said the Secretary of State Communications, Luis Eduardo Camacho. It was reported that Deputy Foreign Minister, Francisco Alvarez De Soto, will be on official duty in South Africa and Italy during that period, said Camacho.
MORE CUSTOMS CHECKS
The National Customs Authority (ANA) needs to strengthen the borders. According to the director of this institution, Gloria Moreno de Lopez, before the end of the legislative session they will request an additional appropriation of $4 million to hire 500 additional officers. In addition, the director of the ANA seeks to create a border checkpoint at Paso Canoa in both directions in order to streamline procedures and have personnel to check carriers passing through this route.
A total of 58 multinational companies settled in Panama in the past two years, attracted by a law which provides facilities for this type of investment, said the Panamanian government. The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, said the 58 new multinationals open opportunities for the growth of the economy of this nation over the next five years, and contributed revenues of about $40 million to the country at the start of their operations.
Although income from slot machines type A increased by 16% in 2011 compared to 2010, the National Assembly deputies saw a need to reduce taxes paid by this variety of gambling to the Gambling Control Board. The percentage payable by type A machines in gaming rooms is decreased from 19% to 18% of gross revenues to the Gaming Control Board. Also decreased from 12.5% to 12% is the payment of full casinos.
NEW TAX ON PUBLIC
The ruling blocs of the Democratic Change Party and the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena) again imposed their legislative steamroller to pass on third reading bill 423, which establishes a rate of 0.5% to fund the plan for undergrounding cabling services, telecommunications and pay TV.
COPA LEAPS AHEAD
The Panamanian airline Copa Airlines will not wait long to take advantage of the new frequencies given by Peru to Panama. The company confirmed that in July it will implement its fifth daily flight to Lima, while 13 days later it will begin to exploit the first Iquitos- Panama route.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned it had difficulties in closely monitoring the activities of the public sector and fiscal risks due to the exclusion of the National Highway Authority (ENA), the Electricity Transmission Company (Etesa) and Tocumen International Airport in the nonfinancial public sector and the increasing use of “turnkey” contracts.