C&W SHARES IN LIMBO
President Ricardo Martinelli endorsed the sale of 49% of the shares the State holds in Cable & Wireless. “You have to start thinking about a number of innovative things like that, because these actions took a peak … there is much competition and contractors can sell some to the company and to other Panamanians,” he said. The announcement of the sale, valued today at about $630 million, prompted protests from the Coordinator of former employees of INTEL and C & WP and the rejection of some consultants.
A total of 25% of the money to be gained from the future sale of land in the Colon Free Zone (CFZ) will go into a trust for projects in the province of Colon and the rest to State coffers. This was reported by the Minister of Commerce, Ricardo Quijano and Leopoldo Benedetti, manager of the free zone, who explained the bill. These land sales violate Article 258 of the Constitution because most of the land is filled from the sea and under the Constitution this is property of the state that cannot be sold. Based on this provision, the former Minister of Economy, Alberto Vallarino also rejected the development of the city marina in Amador. According to the civic leaders of Colon the government wants to do away with the assets of the free zone by selling off its lands, and leave the province without financial resources for deserving projects. Once again President Ricardo Martinelli lashed out against the country’s businessmen, amid a debate about the proposal. “It is irresponsible, it is an outrage that this government is giving to the richest people in Panama a rent of $1.40 (per square meter),” he said after asking reporters where they could find rent like this? The announcement of the sale of the land in the free zone and government shares in Cable & Wireless Panama has set off alarms: Why is the government so eagerly looking for cash?
The Panamanian government finances are strong by making a five year plan in the administration of President Ricardo Martinelli which envisaged investment that the country needed to modernize and improve the living conditions of Panamanians, such as the income they needed to support themselves, said the Secretary of State Communications through a press release.
Panama participated in the Cruise Shipping Conference in Miami, the largest convention of cruise companies in the world. In addition to highlighting the benefits of the port located in Colon, also marketed was the terminal that the Government intends to build on the Amador Causeway, said a source.
GALA PANAMA WEEK
In Washington, Panama Week took place, an annual forum on Panama to attract potential US investors. The forum this year generated special interest by being the first since the trade promotion agreement was ratified in the US Congress. There was an atmosphere of celebration when the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, announced that the two countries are committed to finalizing the implementing legislation for the TPC to enter into force on October 1. US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk and Minister Quijano agreed that by next October the final implementation of the agreement will be a reality.
Panama accelerates a series of reforms that it hopes will meet the conditions enabling it to pass by mid-year an evaluation of the Global Forum on tax transparency. Otherwise, agencies such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) would stop lending to companies in Panama.
CANAL GETS AWARD
The Ethisphere Institute delivered to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) an award as one of the most ethical companies in the world, “demonstrating leadership on good business practices.” It is the second consecutive year that it has receiving the recognition.
RISE IN RANKING
Panama recorded a slight improvement in the overall ranking of economic freedom compiled by the Heritage Foundation in collaboration with the financial daily The Wall Street Journal. In a ranking of 179 countries, Panama held position 55 with 65.2 points out of 100. The result is 0.3 points better than last year, keeping the country from those considered “moderately free.”
Commercial activity in Panama generated $1,782.1 million between January and October 2011, an increase of $66.8 million more than in the same period of 2010, according to a social and economic analysis of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). The increase is equivalent to 3.9%, according to figures from the Statistics and Census Department of the Comptroller’s Office.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stressed the “remarkable resilience” of Panama to external shocks in presenting their findings after concluding Article IV on the country. According to the IMF, this resistance is based on strong economic fundamentals and prudent policies. It adds that the task of Panama is to create an inclusive growth.