Week in Review
PPC ON STRIKE AGAIN
Workers of Panama Ports Company (PPC) reported on May 9 a “wave of redundancies” in Balboa and Cristobal. In Colon, 10 dismissals were reported, while in Panama the figure could be higher. The Chinese-owned company recently reported millions in losses for clients after overcoming a dock stoppage declared by workers demanding a wage increase of 30%. The workers again went on strike, this time for one day.
BEARER SHARE BAN
The Panama Banking Association (ABP) has a clear position on bearer shares, an issue that the country must define before, in September, the next assessment takes place of the Global Forum on Fiscal Transparency. The sector defined its position in a letter to the Minister of Economy, Frank De Lima, in which he reports that the banks have adopted as a rule not to open accounts for legal entities (companies) that issue bearer shares.
Panama’s Grupo Assa, with operations in six countries, including Colombia and Bermuda, where it owns banks and insurance companies, reported net income at the end of last year of $39.7 million, the highest in its history. One of its main subsidiaries, Assa Insurance Company, made $10,042,000 in its operations in Panama, which means that it captured 56% of the profits of the insurance sector in the local market.
President Ricardo Martinelli held a meeting on May 7 in his office with the Special Envoy for Latin America from the Prime Minister of Australia, Ambassador John McCarthy, who stressed the importance of economic growth in Panama, which means that Australia will increase its presence in Central America. In an open and frank dialogue, McCarthy, on behalf of Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said his country had interest to invest in Panama and raised the suggestion of an official visit to Australia by a large delegation of Panamanian businessmen to promote the competitive advantages of Panama.
TRUST FUND DECLINE
The Trust Fund for Development ended 2011 with assets of $1,244 million, $29.5 million (2.3%) less than in the previous year. Most of the resources of the FFD (60.5%) are in stock investments. These include $729.4 million in investments managed by three fund managers hired by the Republic. The FFD also has $360.7 million in time deposits in foreign banks.
Inmet Mining, the parent company of Minera Panama, announced that it will go to the international market looking for capital to develop its copper mine in Donoso, Colon. Inmet announced in a statement, that it will issue one billion dollars in bonds in the US and Canada, due in 2020 to finance the mine in Colon.
Panama confirmed that from June 11 to July 6 it will host the 64th meeting of the International Whaling Commission, after a coordination meeting in Panama City with the Buenos Aires Group (GBA). Nevertheless, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roberto C. Henriquez, said in a statement that Panama rejects whaling.
The economic team of Canada’s Scotiabank in its latest report predicted growth of between 8% and 9% for the Panamanian economy. The general manager of the entity in Panama, Robert Williams, said that with a conservative look the prognosis is possible because there is a real economy in full swing, fueled by public and private investment.
CFZ LAND ASSESSED
In about eight months the government will be ready with the plans identifying in detail the items it wishes to sell in the Colon Free Zone (CFZ). The subdivision is being done by the Cotrans Group, a company hired directly for $368,000 and whose president is Luis Raul Garcia Campana, according to the Public Registry.
Marcelo Mahecha Mauner, alleged mastermind of the so-called “narcosubmarines” used by the cartels to get tons of cocaine into Mexico and Central America, surrendered to agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Panama, Colombian media reported. It was reported that the alleged drug runner later was transferred to Florida, where a Federal Court opened criminal charges against him related to international drug trafficking.
NO BLOCK ON CARGO
The retaliation of Panama against Ecuador does not imply any obstruction to the flow of cargo to and from Ecuador through the Panama Canal or ban on the transit of vessels flagged by that country.
TAX FLOWS IN
During the first three months of the year State income reached $1,549 million, $73.6 million or 5% over budget and $294 million or 23.4% over the first quarter of 2011. Part of the increase in revenue is attributed to the controls with fiscal printers.
CANAL KEEPS GROWING
In 1880 France made the first attempt, then the United States resumed the construction of the Panama Canal, starting in 1904 and opening on August 15, 1914. Now 97 years have passed and Panama has 12 years administering it. The work of the Canal expansion totals $5,250 million, the largest investment in Panamanian history.
In the past five years the Panamanian government paid two to three million dollars in compensation after lawsuits were filed.