Monday 7th November 2022.

November 7, 2022

For three days, representatives of the Ombudsman’s Offices of Panama and Colombia exchanged information and experiences on the irregular migratory flow that occurs across the border between the two countries. In recent years, the crossing of thousands of irregular travelers through the Darien jungle has caused a migration crisis in the region. During the meeting, representatives of the ombudsmen of both countries evaluated the dynamics of migrants and refugees who cross the border, most of them with the aim of reaching the United States. The Ombudsman’s Office of Panama reported that the Acandí-Chocó area (Colombia) was visited to learn about the situation of the migrant population and in a condition to request refuge in transit.In addition, border sites in the Colombian region of Apartadó were visited in order to verify the current situation in the migratory corridors. In the Acandí sector, meetings were held with local authorities and communities in the region. It is noteworthy that representatives of the United Nations Refugee Agency participated in the tour. It is expected that in the middle of next week both defenders will present a report on the migratory situation on the border between Panama and Colombia.

Raising the need to find viable solutions to save the Disability, Old Age and Death (IVM) program, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) requires the government to resume the dialogue for the Social Security Fund (CSS) . In its weekly letter, the Chamber of Opinions, the business association highlights that the proposals that are presented by the sectors represented in the dialogue must be analyzed scientifically and technically, in order to specify viable solutions to this problem. “The private sector has presented a proposal that is based on the integration and improvement of three existing pillars in Panama and its objectives are to prevent poverty in old age, guarantee financial sustainability, pay adequate pensions, increase coverage and equity. among its participants”, is highlighted in the Cciap’s message to the nation. Likewise, the Chamber recalls that this proposal proposes a transparent and efficient administration, in addition to the participation of workers and employers through savings to improve pensions. The Cciap warns that the initiative to unite the pension subsystems is not viable. Remember that an actuarial report from February 2021 predicts that taking this step means that the maximum operating deficit would quadruple. Given this, the business sector does not recommend consolidating these systems. “Furthermore, this would not be an act of solidarity, it would be expropriating the savings of the members of the mixed subsystem, in a clear violation of their constitutional right to private property.” The Chamber of Commerce reiterated that the different proposals presented at the CSS dialogue table must be supported with technical and scientific arguments. “Inaction is not an option for a problem that is already having dire consequences for the country. It is time to act”, emphasizes the Cciap. For this Tuesday, November 8, the board of directors of the CSS will have an extraordinary meeting as a way to evaluate the approval of the resolution that contains the recommendations to make financial reforms and the inclusion of additional income to the IVM-only defined benefit subsystem.

Although the hotel sector reports better numbers than in 2021, there are still 5,720 hotel rooms that remain closed and will continue to do so until demand returns to 2019 levels, prior to the covid-19 pandemic. After 25 months since October 2020, when the first restrictions applied to Panamanian tourism as a result of the pandemic were lifted, it is estimated that there are still some 25 hotels closed throughout the country. 2019 closed with a hotel occupancy of 48% with an offer of 27,500 hotel rooms throughout the country. The numbers were not the best and the tourism sector aimed to increase that percentage during 2020, however, the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic ended those plans. Raúl Jiménez, president of Apatel, pointed out that the figure does not include pension rooms, cabins and other lodging centers, for which the number of closed rooms would be higher. “From May to date, 580 hotel rooms have been incorporated that have been closed since 2020, leaving 21,780 rooms available, 21% below the 2019 numbers,” Jiménez commented. Officially, there are no statistics for 2022 on the number of rooms and hotels available, but consulted businessmen indicate that the number of hotels that are still closed ranges between 25 and 30, the most visible being the Megapolis, which has more than 1,400. rooms. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates that between 2020 and 2023 this sector will have lost some $12 billion in Panama. In 2020 alone, the sector lost more than $5 billion. “There is not enough demand to justify the reopening of a hotel that remains closed, there are multiple operating expenses, payroll, among others that must be faced,” said a hotelier, who preferred not to give his name and who has three locations, of which, one will remain closed. The president of Apatel said that last June the occupation registered its highest level in the last three years, reporting 60%, mainly in the capital city, as a result of a considerable number of events that took place in the country. “The figure fell to 30% due to the protests in July, and then in August and September it recovered somewhat, but this year we are not going to return to pre-pandemic levels,” Jiménez said.

Up until the early hours of this Sunday, the Traffic Operations Directorate of the National Police registered the return to the capital city of some 134,000 vehicles. Since Saturday, the police authorities have deployed the vehicle return operation, with the reversal of lanes at two points in the province of Panama Oeste, for the national holidays. Until the cutoff at 6:00 am this Sunday, the return to the capital sector of 134,608 vehicles was recorded. The surveillance operation began last Wednesday, November 2, and it was reported that some 150,000 cars traveled to the interior of the country. Traffic Operations reported that 1,884 infractions were registered; Of this amount, 534 were due to speeding, 64 due to proven drunkenness, 22 due to alcoholic breath and 97 inadequate lights.

Florida State University and the Chamber of Shipping of Panama signed a Collaboration Agreement in order to promote the development of human talent through continuing education and improve the job prospects of students and graduates of this prestigious university. By virtue of the agreement, the collaborators of the more than 200 companies belonging to the Chamber of Shipping will have the opportunity to improve professionally through the courses and seminars offered by the Department of Professional Development of Florida State University, while the students and graduates of the university will have the opportunity to opt for internships and jobs in the main companies in the country’s logistics sector. The president of the Chamber of Shipping of Panama, Mr. Enrique Clément , the rector of Florida State University, Dr. Carlos Langoni, and other distinguished authorities from Florida State University and the Chamber of Shipping were present at the event.

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