FISH EXPORT THREAT
Panamanian seafood could be blocked again by the European Union (EU) if the country does not adjust some measures to prevent illegal fishing. Europe launched this warning after detecting Panamanian flagged vessels fishing in areas that have been declared World Preservation sites, confirmed Oscar Osorio, Minister of Agricultural Development (MIDA).
The manager of the Colon Free Zone (CFZ), Leopoldo Benedetti, said that the sale price of land to businessmen in the free zone would be from $350 a square meter in the old section to $125 a square meter in France Field and $100 per square meter in Coco Solo and Coco Solito. These figures are substantially lower than those given after an appraisal commissioned by the Ministry of Economy and submitted to the free zone businessmen in mid year. According to that document, the prices would go from $400 to $1,925 per square meter. At that time, the business group showed opposition to the plan. Benedetti said that the Colon Free Zone administration may “dispose directly of the real estate” in this business area “after two calls are made and there is no response from buyers”. This is stated in bill 529, which is being discussed in the National Assembly. Benedetti said that if a businessman wants to acquire a parcel of land that has no previous contract, the free zone will have to make a call to see if there are others interested. If there is no one, then the free zone will have the power to award the area. Representatives of the Colon Chamber of Commerce showed their rejection of Bill 529. Samir Zayed, vice-president of the Colon Chamber of Commerce, said during the first debate of the bill that businessmen in the free zone import and re-export goods and are not in the real estate business. With five votes in favor, two against and one abstention, the Commerce Commission of the National Assembly approved the bill on first reading, but protests broke out on the streets of Colon and in adjoining areas while the government ran TV spots full of promises to the Colon people.
CANAL LOGISTICS PARK
The Panama Canal could become a logistics platform using part of the land that was cleared of explosives left by the US military and develop them as logistics centers. There are approximately 900 acres on the west side of the access channel to the new Pacific locks that were contaminated with munitions and explosives and have been detonated, sanitized and refilled for the enlargement work.
EURO vs. DOLLAR
President Ricardo Martinelli said in Germany, during a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, that he would like to introduce the euro as legal tender in the country. The president said he is seeking ways to make the euro become a currency of legal tender in the country and accepted in Panama. However, he gave no further details. There were reactions against the proposal. Economist Juan Jované called the proposal “nonsense”, because it is very difficult to have two coins as legal tender, he warned. The economist said the introduction of the euro in common use would have serious implications for the country, such as payment of wages, fixing the state budget, and collection of taxes, among other things.
Panama could lose its competitiveness if it does not have specialized human capital levels required by businesses that are installed in the country. That was the consensus reached by a group of panelists in a Forum on Growth and Economic Future and Risk of Panama, organized by the Chamber of Commerce and the British Embassy. Meanwhile, Ricaurte Vásquez, former Minister of Economy and Finance, said that Panama has human capital, but requires 10 to 15 years to see the results of the changes that are being made in education, while businesses require qualified personnel now.
AIRPORT CAN BORROW
Tocumen International Airport may acquire debt to finance its expansion plans and other investment income it is using as a backup. The Cabinet approved the bill introduced by the Minister of Government, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, and supported by finance vice-minister, Mahesh Khemlani.
HUGE BUDGET OK
With 39 votes in favor and 12 against, the full National Assembly approved in third debate, draft law 499 which establishes the general state budget for fiscal 2013. The budget amounts to $16,284 million, and was approved despite criticism from opposition benches who called it “inconvenient” and say much of these resources will be used by the government for poitical purposes.