Monday 27th March 2023.

March 27, 2023


After two years of strong economic impact due to the restrictions imposed during the respiratory pandemic, 2022 closed with a gross domestic product (GDP) higher than in 2019.

Seen in global terms, the recovery process was completed after the economic collapse of 2020. However, there are important sectors for the economy that have not yet surpassed the pre-pandemic level.

These are construction, tourism and manufacturing industries, with the first two sectors suffering the most during the pandemic.

Economist Luis Alberto Morán said that low levels of investment explain the results of construction, with a public budget in which current spending has more weight.

In the case of tourism, Morán referred to the scarcity of policies to promote local tourism and the country brand internationally.

The president of the Union of Industrialists of Panama, Luis Frauca, also pointed to the need for the administration of Laurentino Cortizo to make payments to suppliers in a timely manner and to streamline bureaucratic procedures to boost private investment.

At the end of 2022 and after a real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 10.8%, the size of the economy exceeded for the first time the level that existed in 2019, that is, in the last year prior to the pandemic.

However, when the performance of each economic activity is analyzed, it is observed that some key sectors continue to lag behind the reality prior to the health crisis. This is the case of construction, tourism and manufacturing industries.

Measured at buyer’s prices, Panamanian GDP stood at $2022,76.522 million in 5, far exceeding the $67,406.7 million of the previous year and the $69,721 million of GDP in 2019.

These are the figures recently published by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), which incorporate the update of the base year of the national accounts from 2007 to 2018, a change that caused an increase in GDP figures from 2018.

The message was clear: “We inform you that on Monday, March 27, 2023, the Urban and Household Cleaning Authority (AAUD) will be taking control of the Patacón hill landfill.”

This is stated in a note sent by Rafael Prado De Obaldía, administrator in charge of the AAUD, on March 24, to Harold Barco, legal representative of Urbalia Panama, a company that is responsible for the operation of the landfill in the corregimiento of Ancón.

Prado’s argument is that since the order to proceed for the operation of this waste management site was delivered on March 26, 2008 and the concession contract is valid for 15 years, its completion date is March 26, 2023.

This concession, which dates back to 2008, was initially signed between the Municipality of Panama and the Spanish company Urbaser, which in 2011 transferred the business to Urbalia Panama. To this we must add that a year earlier, in 2010, the AAUD was created, with which the Municipality of Panama is no longer responsible for the management of waste in the capital city.

The conflict

Currently, there is a conflict regarding this issue. The AAUD indicates that Urbalia must leave the landfill, while the company points out that there is an addendum that extends the contract for nine more months and that the State owes it, since March 2020, about $ 26 million for services provided in the operation of the landfill.

In fact, the Attorney General of the Administration, Rigoberto González, pronounced on the matter and estimated that the 2008 contract between Urbalia Panama and the Municipality of Panama expires today. González’s opinion responds to a query raised by the general administrator of the AAUD.

According to González, the foregoing is based on the fact that it is a contract concluded in February 2008, to which Law 56 of December 27, 1995, which regulates public procurement, which was in force at the time the call for public tenders was made, is applicable.

It states that the contract signed between the parties clearly states that the duration of the contract is for a period of 15 years from the order to proceed.

On the other hand, the legal representative of Urbalia stressed to La Prensa that the contract must end on December 26 of this year, since on October 21, 2008 an addendum was signed in which an “extension” of nine months was established.

According to Barco, the addendum was agreed because, after the order to proceed was delivered, it was impossible for the company to comply with a preparation period, for reasons not attributable to the contractor, that is, to Urbalia.

The ambassador of the United States in Panama, Mari Carmen Aponte, confirmed this Saturday, March 25, that they are collaborating in the investigation into the disappearance of at least 19 thousand ampoules of fentanyl from the deposits of the Social Security Fund (CSS).

“There is an investigation into what happened to those fentanyl vials. The United States is helping,” Aponte said.

“I have no other comment, only that we are supporting the investigation,” he added.

Last Wednesday, the Attorney General, Javier Caraballo, reported that the Public Ministry practiced four visual inspection proceedings in the CSS in search of clues to establish the whereabouts of 19 thousand doses of fentanyl that were taken from that entity.

Although the first complaint for the loss of fentanyl was filed with the Public Ministry in November 2022, it was not until March 6, 2023 that the CSS sent the audit report that reported the disappearance of the substance; Originally, it had been said that it was 10 thousand ampoules.

It was learned that the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office sent an official letter to the CSS to establish the amount of the possible patrimonial injury caused to the State by the loss of these blisters.

In the United States, fentanyl is responsible for one of the biggest public health crises.



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