HAND OVER DONE
Jorge Luis Quijano, who now takes over as administrator of the Panama Canal for seven years, has a challenge: begin operating the new locks. The handover ceremony took place on the steps of the Administration Building and involved his friends and family. In addition, the outgoing administrator, Alberto Aleman Zubieta, and the last ministers of the Canal were present. At the end of his term, Alemán Zubieta is recognized by many, and this is particularly eloquent in an article that has been dedicated by The Journal of Commerce, written by Peter T. Leach. The daily said: ‘When he retired as head of the Panama Canal, the legacy of A. Alemán Zubieta extends beyond one of the modern wonders of the world”.
Maersk Line, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, announced that it will raise rates for the service of refrigerated containers used in transporting food in Central and South America and Africa. Last May, the shipping company also announced a 30% rise in prices on routes serving Latin America for regular containers (dry), due to high fuel costs, steel prices and charges in container ports.
Panamanians owe the banking system about $29,783 million. According to reports from the Superintendence of Banks, in June 2012 the balance of the private loan portfolio reflected an increase over the previous year of 14.9%.
Grupo Unidos por el Canal, S. A. (GUPC), which is building the third set of locks, has not yet completed the documentation on the claim of $573 million which it brought against the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). The ACP had warned the consortium – formed by Sacyr Vallehermoso, Italy’s Impregilo, Belgium’s Jan de Nul and Panama’s CUSA – about delays in the pouring of concrete, a process that should have started in January.
FLOOD RISK REMAINS
The coordinator of Conservation International’s marine program in Panama, Arturo Dominici, stated that channeling the rivers of the suburb of Juan Diaz is not the solution to prevent flooding in this district. Dominici said officials from the Ministry of Housing and Land Management and the National Environmental Authority must suspend the permits for projects in wetland areas. He also proposed a plan for the recovery of mangroves, which will take over 20 years, in addition to removing the land fillings of all projects.
NEW STORES DUE
Panama’s economic growth continues to attract international companies. The Colombian chain Cueros Vélez (Velez Leather), dedicated to the production of leather articles, is scheduled to open stores in Panama as part of its international growth strategy. According to reports in the Colombian newspaper La Republica, the company will invest at least $8 million to extend its brand in the region. In each store the company intends to invest about $200,000.
TAX INCOME UP
Between January and July this year the current revenues of the central government were $3,309.3 million, an increase of $37.5 million or 15.2% over the same period of 2011. Due to continued growth in public spending, the balance of the first half shows a deficit of $428 million on gross domestic product (GDP) in the nonfinancial public sector, covering the central and decentralized government.
FTA WITH KOREA
The governments of Panama and Korea will begin negotiations next year for a free trade agreement. Korea’s ambassador in Panama, Doo Jungsoo, said the FTA feasibility studies have already been completed and what remains is to specify the date for the start of the negotiations. According to the diplomat, the Panama FTA will have advantages because Panama can export many agricultural products to Korea.
The proposal to merge the Social Security Fund (CSS) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) continues to generate debate. This time the National System of Social Public Health sent a letter to President Ricardo Martinelli, in which it asks for a referendum if it is decided to unify the health system as mentioned in a public act weeks ago.
Economists and labor leaders discussed the sustainability of the economic model of Panama during a forum organized by the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede). Experts warned of the risks of the current system, including a significant dependence of the economy on public spending and a deficiency in social profitability of projects.
At a cost of $250,000, Gualaca in the province of Chiriqui opened, the first state laboratory in animal biotechnology. It is to enhance genetic meat quality and performance of domestic cattle and it may be possible through embryo transfer. It is on an area of 110 hectares, located in the experimental station Carlos Ortega, where specialists of the Agricultural Research Institute of Panama (IDIAP) are working on crossbreeding European cattle with Zebu.
PRD SEEKS UNITY
Former President Ernesto Perez Balladares (1994-1999) met with the newly elected general secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD), Juan Carlos Navarro. They drank coffee and talked about the political future of the group. They laughed and talked for several minutes. Accompanying them at that meeting was the former Minister of Housing Roosevelt Lito Thayer. Navarro also sought advice for unity from notables, including three former presidents under the military regime, Aristides Royo, Ricardo de la Espriella and Francisco Rodriguez. In addition, Berta Torrijos, sister of General Omar Torrijos, Hugo Giraud, Carlos Duque and businessmen Haralambos Tzanetatos and Arturo Melo were present.
WEB UPDATE PROMISED
The Minister of Government, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, acknowledged the low level of compliance of the institution in disseminating information of public interest on website. The Ministry of Government is one of 54 institutions that do not comply 100% with this provision in Act 6 on Transparency, according to official data. Fabrega said that the next report will be a radical change in the management of information on the web.