Friday 7th October 2022.
October 7, 2022
Jorge Rivera Staff, Secretary General of Energy, reported this Thursday, that the Government canceled the debt of $60 million that it had for the payment of the subsidy for this product to the gas tank distribution companies. “With this action, any risk regarding the supply and commercialization of the gas tank in our country is completely overcome and mitigated,” said Rivera Staff during the meeting of the Cabinet Council at the Specialized Higher Technical Institute (ISTE). He indicated that they canceled the debt in a “timely manner”, after the National Assembly approved a credit of $60 million last week On Wednesday, the company Petroport SA, supplier of Tropigas, one of the two distributors of the 25-pound cooking gas tank that operates in the country, warned that as of today there would be a shortage of the tank due to the amount owed. With the subsidy for the 25-pound gas tank, it is allowed to be sold at 4.37 dollars in the provinces of Panama and Colon. In the rest of the country it has a higher cost for the transportation, Without this subsidy, the selling price of a 25-pound gas cylinder would be $16.63.
The plenary session of the National Assembly gave priority to Bill 888 in the session this Thursday, October 6. The initiative, which shields the questioned tax credits in tourism investments, was approved in the third debate, with 38 votes in favor. There were 8 votes against and not one abstention. The legislative process of the bill that would shield tax incentives in favor of companies that develop tourism projects received expeditious treatment in the Assembly. It was approved in the first debate on September 22 in the Economy and Finance Commission. And in the second debate by the legislative plenary session, on Wednesday, October 5. The initiative was presented last September 7, by the deputy Melchor Herrera , of the PRD. During the approval in the third debate, different deputies spoke in favor and against the convenience of the bill. Herrera defended the initiative. “These incentives are necessary for these hotels to survive,” he said. Deputy President Crispiano Adames, who was leading the session at the time, complained about the little attention that others present in the plenary paid to Herrera’s words. He warned that everything that happened will be recorded “in the minutes.” Meanwhile, the independent deputy Gabriel Silva assured that the bill is not convenient and alleged its unconstitutionality, since incentives and tax credits are granted, without specifying the substitute income for the State. Luis Ernesto Carles, of the Panameñista Party, for his part, reiterated that the tourism unions do not agree with how these projects have been carried out. They also spoke against the Panamanian Hugo Méndez and the independent Edison Broce. The Executive had promised to eliminate the tax credits granted through Laws 122 of 2019 and 314 of 2022, after the street protests last July, due to the high levels of corruption and the cost of living. However, the Assembly shelved a bill that, in this sense, was presented last August 1 by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Federico Alfaro. When the Legislative Commission for Commerce and Economic Affairs decided to shelve Alfaro’s proposal, it did so with the argument that its content would be discussed and possibly integrated into Bill 888. That never happened. Bill 888 maintains the tax credit of between 60% and 100% for tourism investments made outside the district of Panama. Herrera, who represents the 2-2 circuit, corresponding to the Antón area, in Coclé, was the one who proposed Law 314 of 2022.
Last Wednesday, October 5, in the afternoon and evening hours, a call center and those close to the government mounted a defamation campaign against Rolando Rodríguez B, a journalist from the newspaper La Prensa . That same day, but earlier, Rodríguez sent Celso Carrizo – assistant to the Vice President of the Republic, José Gabriel Gaby Carrizo Jaén – an email addressed to his boss, with a 22-question questionnaire about some of the expensive real estate recently acquired with his wife and his relationship with the lawyer Luis Acevedo Ureña . As part of these reports, which will be published in the coming days, La Prensa wanted to obtain Carrizo’s version of these assets, as well as Acevedo Ureña’s. The first response to the questionnaire would have been a video broadcast copiously to ridicule the work and image of the journalist, father of twin children who, in the end, are referred to as the “twins” (without directly alluding to their names), in a veiled threat to the Rodríguez’s journalistic exercise. In this video, which was not created by La Prensa, the newspaper’s logo and the characteristic style of the multimedia publications of this publishing house are used. The virulent response of the official call centers to a questionnaire addressed to the vice president would show the disgust that the questionnaire has caused Carrizo, which also addresses several appointments that were made in favor of the Acevedo Ureña, Arango Cobos and Cobos House families. The questionnaire to Acevedo Ureña, in turn, contains questions about his relationship with Bagatrac and his involvement in the creation of private interest foundations to protect luxurious properties belonging to the Carrizo Spiegel family. Rodríguez communicated by telephone on Wednesday with this lawyer, who, after hearing the reason for the call, quite nervous, asked to meet personally to discuss the content of the questionnaire. Although Rodríguez accepted, Acevedo Ureña subsequently interrupted all communication with the journalist and no more was heard from him. La Prensa sent the questionnaires to receive until this weekend the versions of the aforementioned, in order to integrate them into the reports, also informing them that the complete questionnaires will be published –with or without their answers– on the printed and digital platforms of this publishing house.
An Andorran judge ordered to keep some 30 accounts frozen at Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA) and one at Credit Andorrà with a total balance of 52.2 million euros ($51 million, at current exchange rates), allegedly from bribes paid by the construction company Odebrecht to Latin American politicians, among whom “close friends” of former President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal (2009-2014) are cited, according to a journalistic investigation by the Spanish newspaper El País . Andorran justice blocked eight accounts with a total balance of 34 million euros ($33.5 dollars), allegedly connected to politicians and Martinelli’s “front men”. The judge’s decision, indicates the newspaper, was issued last March. “The blockade affects four deposits in the BPA of the parents of Demetrio Papadimitriu, Minister of the Presidency of Panama under Martinelli’s mandate. The accounts have a balance of 208,557 euros. A tiny figure compared to the 13 million euros ($12.8 million) that the politician’s parents, Diamantis and María Bagatelas de Papadimitriu , moved between 2010 and 2014, through a set of 45 accounts in the BPA and Credit Andorrà, ” says. The Country . The newspaper also mentions that there are frozen accounts for 16.8 million euros ($15 million) in the name of Pachira Limited, a company linked to Roberto Brin Azcárraga , who worked as an executive at Super 99, the supermarket chain owned by the Martinelli family.All of them (Martinelli and his two children, the Papadimitriu and Brin Azcárraga, among others) are accused in the Odebrecht case that is being settled in Panama, except for Diamantis Papadimitriu, who died in 2015. In fact, among the evidence collected by the Special Prosecutor’s Office Anti-corruption there is documentation provided by the Principality of Andorra, extracted in ocular inspection procedures in which Imelcf Forensic Computer personnel participated. Another Gabriel Elías Alvarado Far account was also blocked for 12.8 million euros ($11 million) in the BPA. Alvarado has a collaboration agreement with the Public Ministry, in which he confessed to being a figurehead for Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares , both imprisoned in the United States for laundering at least $28 million in bribes from Odebrecht, using the American financial system. José Luis Saiz Villanueva , a businessman who confessed to having acted as a figurehead for Frank de Lima, Minister of Economy and Finance in the last three years of the Martinelli government, allegedly has 2.3 million euros ($2.2 million) frozen in the account he managed in the BPA in the name of the company Herzone Overseas Limited , highlights El País . Another of those involved in the Odebrecht plot, Olmedo Augusto Méndez Tribaldos , accumulates 2 million euros ($1.9 million) in the bank, according to the note in the Spanish newspaper.All these companies are linked to Box 2 of Odebrecht.
Five people were apprehended on the morning of this Thursday, by the Public Ministry, for their alleged involvement in the theft of a little more than 600,000 dollars from the branch of the National Bank of Panama (BNP) on August 13. The arrests occured during a raid carried out by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor at seven points, including BNP facilities. Three of those arrested are bank officials, explained prosecutor Adela Cedeño.In the diligence, they managed to locate “indications related to theft” between these cell phones, vehicles and documents. The investigation carried out revealed that the assailants used electric tools to cut the roof of the building and that they must have had the complicity of officials who were able to provide information about the security equipment and the location of money.
The authorities decreed this Thursday, October 6, a preventive green alert due to the passage of storm Thirteen, which may become a tropical cyclone by the weekend. Luz Graciela Calzadilla, from Hydrometeorology at ETESA, reported that we are facing a “disturbance” that moves very quickly, so it could become a cyclone in the next few hours. “We are concerned because it has the same trajectory as Hurricane ETA,” she said, while explaining that it is currently on the coast of Venezuela, to move through Colombia and in the next 48 hours it would be entering the Caribbean. “We have to be very vigilant,” he said. She indicated that when a name is assigned, it means that there is a high probability that it will become a tropical cyclone. She even said that this was established by the National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, for its acronym in English). Carlos Rumbo, director of the National Civil Protection System, said that this is not the time for citizens to visit beaches, rivers or resorts this weekend.He explained that the alert is mainly for the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí, Veraguas and Comarca Ngäbe Buglé.