Thursday 8th September 2022.

September 8, 2022


The National Council of Private Enterprise (Conep) presented, before the Supreme Court of Justice an unconstitutionality lawsuit against Executive Decree 16 of July 26, 2022 , which sets a maximum gross marketing margin for some products imported, such as food, personal hygiene and cleaning items. Rubén Castillo, president of Conep, said that they do not agree with this measure to reduce the high cost of living and that it arose from the so-called single dialogue table that the Executive has with social groups in the province of Coclé. In passing, he reiterated that this table has been exclusive and discriminatory, by not considering all sectors of the country. “As has happened in other countries, price regulation, the massive intervention of the State in economic activity affects citizens,” he specified. Castillo said that Conep, as part of the country’s private sector, will defend free competition, as well as provide support to small, medium and micro producers that are affected by this type of measure. In his opinion, free competition should be encouraged and “not fall into a system where the State takes over economic activity, or rather intervenes in it, in a way that ultimately affects productive activity.” Castillo also said that the organization he represents will provide contributions and ideas to solve the problems of the crisis that has represented the rise in fuel prices, covid-19 and all those circumstances that have affected Panama’s citizens. The dialogue table has been taking place since July 21 at the Cristo Sembrador center, in Penonomé (Coclé). In its first phase, there are eight points on the work agenda: basic basket, fuel, medicines, education, electricity, Social Security Fund, corruption and transparency, and intersectoral table.

While the Executive made the installation of the so-called Single Dialogue Table for Panama official, the conditions under which other organizations will participate in the second phase of the talks are still unknown, and criticism is increasing for the creation of an anti-corruption commission in which only three social groups participate. Alicia Jiménez, from the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of the Republic of Panama and spokesperson for the Great Alliance for Panama, an organization that aspires to participate in the second phase, indicated yesterday Tuesday that she advocates a “methodology widely agreed upon by all parties.” and “review what has been done” since last July. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, headed by Marcela Galindo, warned about the anti-corruption commission, considering that it is “insufficient” and “lacks representation.” The Citizen Commission Against Corruption, created through Executive Decree No. 215 of September 1, 2022 as an agreement of the dialogue table, excluded other sectors.

The guarantee judge Carmelo Zambrano applied preventive detention for four people and decreed the precautionary measure of periodic reporting for another five detainees for allegedly being part of a criminal network dedicated to electronic fraud. The alleged members of this network were arrested on September 5, during “Operation Sim Swapping”. The authorities have said that this group was dedicated to capturing information from the credit cards of the victims and then withdrawing the money from the bank accounts. Those investigated were charged with the crimes of money laundering and fraud. The “Operation Sim Swapping” was carried out by the National Police and the Public Ministry; It consisted of 14 raids carried out in the provinces of Panama (center), West Panama and Colon. During the development of the operation, cash, technological equipment, a money counting machine, vehicles, a firearm and documents that are possibly related to criminal activity were seized. The modalities used by the network to carry out these electronic frauds were phishing and SIM swapping.

“The bank never pressed the emergency button. The Police became aware of [the theft] through other channels.” These are the statements made by the Minister of Public Security, Juan Manuel Pino, about the robbery at the Banesco branch on Calle 50, which occurred last Saturday. Pino said that if the bank had used the emergency button, the reaction time would have been “immediate.” He commented that lynx Police agents are placed in the banking sectors to precisely attend to these cases. He added that the car used by the criminals was circling the area for 45 minutes. “There was never an alarm, or a call, these things have to be reviewed,” he added. The minister pointed out that the security agent was unarmed, “things that go against the security” of a bank. Last Saturday, at about 9:00 am, three men, posing as construction workers, subdued bank security and took a cash register. They also stole belongings from customers who were in place. The investigations continue.

Medical cannabis is an industry that seeks to flourish in Panama, but only seven companies will obtain licenses for the manufacture of cannabis derivatives, a decision that is in the hands of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), together with the so-called Technical Council of Medicinal Cannabis. This is established in article 21 of Law 241 of October 13, 2021, which says: “The Ministry of Health may define the number of licenses that may be authorized. However, up to five years after the enactment of this law, only up to a maximum of seven manufacturing licenses for medicinal cannabis derivatives may be authorized, as a preventive measure, in order to supervise and monitor the development of the internal market. The Ministry of Health, after the five-year term established in this article has expired, may not reduce the number of previously approved licenses .” Said law, in article 24, establishes the following: “ Temporarily and in order to meet the needs of patients and supply the National Program for the Use of Medicinal Cannabis and the national market, the importation of cannabis derivatives will be authorized. medicine to the license holders of the Medicinal Cannabis Derivatives Manufacturing License ”. According to Law 241, the authorization would be valid for two years from the date of approval of each license, and may only be granted in order to supply patients of the National Program for the Use of Medicinal Cannabis and the national market during that period. To obtain a manufacturing license for medicinal cannabis derivatives, companies must make a single payment to the corresponding authority, the amount of which will be $150,000 non-refundable dollars. This single payment will be accredited before the competent authority once the licensee is notified of the resolution that grants the license. Ingrid Schmidt, the president of the CannaWork Institute – a Puerto Rican educational company that seeks to train and educate qualified people to work in the fast-growing industry of Medicinal Cannabis. Schmidt stated that cannabis is a new industry, so if Panama plays its cards right, it could have that first-mover advantage and become the global cannabis hub. Panama is the first country in the Central American region to approve the use of cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, which was finalized after five years of analysis and discussions of the legislation.

As of January 16, 2023, the provinces of Panama, West Panama and Colon will only receive the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) signal. This constitutes a goodbye to the analog signal, in its phase 1, as announced this Wednesday, September 7, 2022 by the Public Services Authority (Asep). “This announcement is the result of compliance with the roadmap established with the industry’s concessionaires,” said Hildeman Rangel, Asep’s national director of Telecommunications, at a press conference. Panama offered its first DTT signal on September 14, 2011, with the State Radio and Television Service ( Servtv ). Later other television channels also began to broadcast in digital quality. The Asep reported that it carried out different household penetration surveys, yielding “favorable results” that allowed the decision to be made to turn off the analog signal on the date agreed by the industry, after carrying out blackout drills for two minutes during the months of May and last august. The entity specified that, together with the television industry, an outreach campaign will be carried out in these three provinces with the aim of preparing them for the analog shutdown.

28 Israeli volunteers completed yesterday social work in Panama. They are young members of the Heroes for Life organization . As part of the volunteering, these young people were in schools in the district of Panama and San Miguelito. In addition to working on the renovation of these educational establishments, they provided support in the teaching of the students, highlighted the Israeli ambassador to Panama, Itai Bardov, who participated in the closing ceremony held at the Manuel José Hurtado school, in El Trickle. Other centers that were part of the program this year were: Federative School of Brazil; El Mirador school, El Valle de Urracá school, Martin Luther King school and República de México school. The volunteers also supported the renovation of the San Ramón building, located in Calidonia, together with the youth movement of the Macabi Jewish community, the Isaac Rabin school, Magen David Academy, among others. Ambassador Bardov said that he hopes that, next year, more young Israeli volunteers can participate in these tasks in Panama.

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