4th BRIDGE PLANNED
The construction process of a fourth bridge over the Panama Canal is progressing steadily. The government expects that by the summer of 2013 it will have the results of the tender for feasibility studies, which will reveal the perfect line, but it will also have the terms of reference for the ICB that it will need to build this bridge. The project envisages the construction of a bridge of three lanes in each direction and the ability to have a railroad, either a light rail or subway line.
Although fiscal deficit levels are kept within a manageable range, in the case of a possible slowdown in the economy, the deficit could reduce the government’s ability to implement countercyclical policies. This is one of the assertions contained in the latest report on Panama from the ratings agency Moody’s.
The entry into force of the Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) between Panama and the US continues to create comment. Francisco Alvarez De Soto, deputy Foreign Minister, said the deal could start to take effect from October or November. In the National Assembly the discussion continues on the four implementation projects. The project on copyright, Bill 510, advanced to third reading, while it is expected that the other three (511, 512 and 515) will be addressed in coming days. The process of implementation of the agreement is still pending. The US ambassador to Panama, Jonathan Farrar, reported that he expects the National Assembly to approve the missing documents to expedite the entry into force of the agreement.
NEW PORTS LAW
The work at the ports of Balboa and Cristobal may soon be regulated by the Labor Code, after the full National Assembly approved, on third reading, Bill 498 which rescinds Law 34, governing work in these ports. For Deputy Mario Lazarus, Law 34 was outdated. “Now the benefits of the workers will be recognized and given the value they deserve,” said Lazaruis.
LOOK ALIKES NABBED
The National Customs Authority seized counterfeit goods valued at $55,572,000 from January to August this year. This amount exceeds the $41 million seized throughout 2011 and is three times higher than it seized in 2010. Panama is estimated to end the year with retained products with a value of $75 million, because in the second half of the year the movement of goods increases.
Costa Rica and Colombia moved on to the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA), which will allow both countries to open markets for their products and strengthen trade, worth over $500 million a year. The breakthrough was achieved during the second round of negotiations held by technical teams of the two countries in San Jose, Costa Rica.
ITALIAN WEB GROWS
The entanglement of President Ricardo Martinelli with the Cavaliere Silvio Berlusconi and his former partner Valter Lavitola do not seem to end. Justifications and recriminations occupied the agenda following the release of a letter from Lavitola, who is being held in a Naples prison, revealing that Martinelli would have donated about $192,000 to create “a fuss” against the Speaker of the Italian Parliament, Gianfranco Fini.
MORE AIRPORT FUNDS
An additional appropriation of $8.7 million was approved by the Cabinet for the International Airport of Tocumen SA, to cover the cost of various insurances, construction of the north pier, the payment of the facial recognition software and Airport Operations (AOIs).
Despite the veto request made to President Ricardo Martinelli by several sectors, he enacted Act 55 of 2012 which amends the articles of the Criminal Procedure Code in order to adopt a process for prosecuting deputies of the National Assembly. The law revives the requirement of proof by the plaintiff in the summary for the admission.