Monday 14th August 2023.

August 13, 2023


In the opinion of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap), there is a “distortion” around the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) and the “desperate, intentional and convenient use” that certain deputies make of this regional hemicycle in order to shield themselves from facing national and international justice. And for the Cciap this “is far from the purpose for which Panama joined” this regional body.

This was expressed by the business union, chaired by Adolfo Fábrega, in the Sunday column La Cámara Opina on this Sunday, August 13, in which it states that, in the face of this type of situation, the country must rethink its participation in Parlacen.

In this Sunday column, the organization also stressed that the privileges -both parliamentary and electoral- were not created to evade justice or as a letter of marque to be invoked whenever appropriate.

Instead, the Cciap points out that the criminal electoral jurisdiction was conceived to promote fair and equitable popular elections, since it has its genesis in the need to protect candidates for popularly elected positions from the persecution they could be subjected to for part of those in power. However, the union pointed out that this has been deformed “to the point of becoming a shell of impunity behind which politicians and people involved in high-profile cases hide.”

“The elements raised here make us emphasize that all these jurisdictions must be eliminated. Societies are called to evolve with the times; we cannot justify its existence by the ghosts of the past”, it is pointed out in the letter.

This pronouncement by the Cciap comes a few days after the swearing in of Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares as substitute deputies for Parlacen failed. Last Friday, the Martinelli Linares brothers could not be sworn in, as was their wish, because there was not the necessary regulatory quorum: they lacked the presence of a parliamentarian. 10 participated in the session and they needed 11 out of a total of 20. Thus, the bench of parliamentarians from Panama will meet again at the sub-headquarters of the regional organization in Amador, Ancón district, today Monday.

The Martinelli Linares brothers are called to trial for the Blue Apple and Odebrecht cases . The Blue Apple trial is due to start on August 22 and the Odebrecht trial on September 27. Both processes investigate the payment of bribes and alleged money laundering, a crime for which they were already imprisoned in the United States, after confessing to a New York judge that they used the financial system of that country to launder at least $28 million in bribes from Odebrecht.

If they acquire the status of deputies to the Parlacen, the procedural rupture of the processes could be decreed and, if so, their cases would be sent to the Supreme Court of Justice, which is the entity that is constitutionally in charge of investigating and prosecuting the deputies ( principals and substitutes) of the National Assembly and Parlacen.

“For a society to evolve and coexist harmoniously, there cannot be superior members with privileges that take them away from justice. We must all be equal before the law”, the Cciap also stated in the Sunday column.

“If the privileges are used in their favor by those who intend to evade ordinary justice and defend their much-claimed innocence and honor accordingly, then we are called as citizens to repudiate those who at their convenience distort the system by evading and confronting the corresponding legal processes,” the CCIAP said.

The government will meet this week, specifically on August 16, with members of the Retirees and Pensioners Confederation to discuss improvements to their aspirations. This is stated in a convocation letter signed by the Vice Minister of the Presidency, Carlos García, dated August 10 and addressed to key officials.

Among those summoned are the Ministers of Economy and Finance, Héctor Alexander, the Minister of Commerce and Industries (proponents of the contract with Minera Panama), Federico Alfaro, the director of the Social Security Fund, Enrique Lau, the governor of Bocas del Toro, Eleazar Gómez and the administrator of the National Public Services Authority (ASEP), Armando Fuentes.

The letter sets out as the objective of the meeting “to consider and support your aspirations for improvements in different issues that affect your entity and to know first-hand the progress and possibilities of making the proposals framed in the Mining Contract Law Project a reality.”

In this context, meeting with the Confederation of Retirees and Pensioners, the tone of the letter reveals a clear conditioning of the aspirations for improvement in the minimum pensions received by retirees and pensioners in Panama to the approval of the mining contract, which awaits first debate in the Assembly.

MICI presented the contract to the Assembly on August 3. That same day, the minister of that ministry, Federico Alfaro, told La Prensa that almost 200 million dollars of the trust created in this contract would be allocated to the Disability, Old Age and Death (IVM) program of the Social Security Fund, the that would be used to increase pensions to those who receive less than 350 dollars per month.

Law 6/1987 details the discounts to which those Panamanians or foreigners residing in Panama who are 55 years of age or older, if they are women, or 60 years of age or older if they are men, are entitled; as well as all retirees and pensioners of any gender at the time of acquiring eligibility.

Originally, article 6 of Law 6/1987 indicated the following: “the discounts and concessions referred to in this Law will be deductible from income tax.” That is, everything listed in article 1 that included medical services, telephone service, electricity, lodging, food, transportation, among other services, and the sale of medicines.

Then Law 192/2020 modified article 6 of Law 6/1987, thus: “the discounts and concessions referred to in this Law in numerals 4 and 5 of article 1 will be 100% deductible as a tax credit”.

The aforementioned numerals 4 and 5 refer only to the services and goods offered by restaurants (except fondas that do not require a notice of operation) and to fast food establishments with national and international franchises. Therefore, since the entry into force of Law 192/2020, only the tax benefit applies to these two activities and excluding the rest.

Recently, Deputy Melchor Herrera presented a Bill (PL) that partially corrects the situation by again including two important activities. It is proposed to modify article 6 of Law 6/1987 again so that it reads as follows: “the discounts and concessions referred to in this Law in numerals 4, 5, 6 and 7 of article 1 will be 100% deductible as a tax credit to the income tax”.

It means that hospital services, clinics and the sale of medicines are again included as qualified activities to obtain this tax benefit, where merchants and professionals have the obligation to offer these discounts to those who apply Law 6/1987.

Those who dedicate themselves to these four activities that will finally be left with the tax benefit according to Law 6/1987, may through their sworn income statements:

First, record the revenue from the sale (complete and including the amount of the discount). Second, they must subtract the discounted amount from the income from the sale and they will obtain the taxable income for those operations. The amount offered in discount will be a tax credit on income tax (ISR). Said tax credit will be applied against the tax debit of the ISR caused and also against the estimated ISR, it may also be transferred through assignment and/or compensation to third parties, concludes the proposed reform. The foregoing, in the event that the taxpayer is in loss and does not have to pay ISR or that the amount of the tax credit exceeds the ISR to be paid.

The reform promoted by Law 192/2020, like the new PL, wisely come to clarify a mistaken interpretation and historical application of Law 6/1987, since I have always been of the opinion that said norm was not limited to indicating that this discount offered It was not a deductible cost or expense to calculate the ISR, but it was always a tax credit applicable to the ISR to be paid, since the accounting effect is not the same and not understood in this way distorted the purpose of Law 6/1987.

Any tax benefit must be monitored in terms of its results and cannot be eternal, since it will then be a very heavy subsidy for the Treasury.

Due to the heavy rains in recent hours, the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) has attended at least 30 emergencies in the provinces of Panama and Panama West.

It is important to highlight that the country registers the effects of the incursion of the tropical wave 24 of the season.

The Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama (Imhpa) reiterated that it remains under a new surveillance notice due to the rains that could be of moderate to heavy intensities, causing accumulations of significant rains in various regions. This notice will be in effect until 5:00 am on Monday, August 14.

In Panama City, strong winds, heavy rains and flooded streets were reported. The authorities reiterated the call to drivers to move with caution.
In the early hours of the night of this Sunday, the suspension of operations at the Tocumen International Airport and at the Panama Pacifico Airport was announced due to the adverse weather conditions that are registered in the Panamanian capital. It is highlighted that bad weather prevents the safe maneuvering of aircraft upon arrival or takeoff from the terminal. Likewise, it is reported that the measure will cause delays in the arrival and departure of passengers in both air terminals.

Once the conditions improve and allow air navigation, the activity will resume.

Two people who were on board a boat that was transporting drugs were captured on Friday night, at Punta San Juanito beach in the Capira district, by agents of the National Aeronaval Service (Senan) and the West Panama Drug Prosecutor’s Office.

Inside the boat there were 346 packages of marijuana, detailed the Public Ministry.

The two people were taken to a hearing before a guarantee judge.

In an operation carried out between various security entities in the province of Darién, close to $19,000 worth of contraband was seized, while several migrants with irregular situations were detected.

Personnel from the National Immigration Service, the National Customs Authority and the National Border Service carried out this Friday “Operation Chocó” locating a citizen of Chinese origin and four Colombian citizens with expired stay.

In addition, in the verification of businesses, more than $19,000 in contraband merchandise was registered.

On the other hand, the National Migration Service reported that two Colombian citizens who are being prosecuted for crimes against life and personal integrity were detected in the operation.


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