Tuesday 23rd January 2024.

January 22, 2024


The Vice Minister of the Environment, Diana Laguna , reported this Monday morning that the air quality in the capital area is outside the norm due to the toxic smoke that still emanates from the Cerro Patacón landfill , four days after the start of the voracious fire.

“Right now we are outside the air quality range and we all feel that. We are above the norm, that is why we recommend that masks be used, because this smoke affects the bloodstream and harms health,” said Diana Laguna on the news program Telemetro Reporta .

He recalled that air quality is recorded by measuring the suspended particles that are generated as a result of these fires, in addition to nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide.

He maintained that as the day goes by, the air quality will improve due to the winds and the work to extinguish the fire with special chemical material.

He added that air monitoring is being carried out with data from the station located at the Technological University of Panama (UTP) and the Ministry of the Environment (Ambiente).

Last Saturday, the Presidency of the Republic reported that, according to the records of the UTP air quality monitoring station, the ambient air quality levels in Panama City were within the permitted threshold.

The fire started last Thursday, January 18, around 6:15 pm The Panama Fire Department estimates that next Wednesday they will have extinguished the fire in its entirety.

Since the fire was declared, various sectors of the capital and some parts of the province of Panama Oeste have been affected by toxic smoke, causing discomfort to people.

A criminal complaint against the administrator of the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority (AAUD), Rafael Prado, and the ministers of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre , and of the Environment, Milciades Concepción , was presented this Monday by the Center for Environmental Incidence (Ciam ) due to poor management of the Cerro Patacón garbage dump , the current scene of a fire that has now been going on for four days.

The complaint was filed with the Public Ministry for the alleged commission of crimes against the environment and against public health and for violation of the duties of a public servant.

In the legal action, filed by lawyer María Gabriela Dutary , it is argued that the repeated fires in the Cerro Patacón landfill, as well as the liquids and gases that emanate from the landfill, constitute a threat to the health of 1.5 million people who live in Panama City.

In 2023, at least 15 fires were recorded in the landfill; The one that originated last Thursday is the first of 2024.

Isaías Ramos , from Ciam, highlighted that these situations occur every summer on Cerro Patacón and that the responsible officials do not take any corrective measures.

“The issue of landfilling, of dumping garbage in those places, is something that does not work and that all governments have been doing,” said Ramos. “The current administration, knowing the problem at hand, has done nothing.”

The report notes that gases released during landfill fires, such as nitrogen dioxide, are known to cause inflammation of the eyes and upper respiratory tract, as well as pulmonary edema and bronchiolitis.

Another gas generated as a result of these fires is sulfur dioxide, which induces inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and lungs, which can cause serious complications, including the development of cancer.

The measure that establishes the maximum gross marketing margin for some personal hygiene, cleaning and food products was extended for six more months, as reported by the Authority for Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition (Acodeco).

The extension was established in Executive Decree 1 of January 19, 2024 , and specifies that, at the national level, a maximum gross margin for retail marketing is established, in all commercial establishments, for 17 imported products (in at least one of its presentations and sizes).

These products were previously identified in coordination with Acodeco and the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (Mici) , based on the savings generated by the temporary elimination of tariffs on imports that take place after the validity of Cabinet Decree 18 of July 25, 2022 .

This list of products emerged in response to the protests carried out by various social movements in July and August 2022, due to the rise in fuel prices and the high cost of living in the country. This measure is additional to the price control of 18 products in the basic basket , established since July 1, 2019.

Products with a maximum marketing margin of 20% include formula for children 1 to 5 years of age, toothpaste, toilet paper, bath soap, sanitary napkins, personal deodorant, chlorine, prepared and preserved fish, wheat flour, creamed corn, corn flakes, garlic and denatured alcohol.

Meanwhile, among those with a maximum marketing margin of 15% are vegetable and soybean oil, bread and bakery products intended for final consumption.

Tocumen SA will present an appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) at the end of January with the aim of trying to revoke the decision of the Administrative Court of Public Procurement (TACP), which ruled in favor of Odebrecht , today CNO, in the procurement process. appeal against the cancellation of the contract executed by the airport in September 2021.

Raffoul Arab, manager of Tocumen, indicated that they are preparing the details to demonstrate that Tocumen complied with what was agreed in the contract and that the airport was responsible for completing the pending work that allowed the 116 thousand square meter building to be fully equipped.

“We paid $8.8 million a month to investors who bought the bond issue used to build the new terminal. We couldn’t wait any longer; Therefore, the contract was annulled to defend the rights of the State,” Arab said.

However, the TACP accepted the arguments of Odebrecht, who alleged that the delay in the work was the responsibility of Tocumen and the pandemic.

The firm Britton & Iglesias, which defended Odebrecht in the appeal, confirmed that they are already preparing a new strategy to defend their client’s rights.

Representatives of businesses, residents and community associations in the Old Town of Panama expressed their concern about the lack of information and clarity about what carnival activities they want to do in that area.

Many learned through the media of the Carnival Board’s decision to share activities between the Cinta Costera and the Old Town.

“A large part of the commercial establishments, including some residents, are concerned about the lack of information, planning and organization that exists for the integration event of the Old Town with the events of the coastal strip. Lack of information generates not only concern, but also doubts,” said Lorenzo Robles, general manager of the Tántalo group.

He specified that no one opposes activities being carried out and the Old Town being integrated into events such as carnivals, however he indicated that during three government administrations, an attempt has been made to find a way to manage the carnivals appropriately, because each season that The coastal strip is blocked, those who suffer the most are the businesses and residents of the area and there is no planning.

“It is not that we are opposed, but that we are concerned about how it will be done. In recent months we have detected a setback in terms of security and organization in the town, for example the well-kept ones are gradually returning, in addition the bollards that were installed to prevent cars from parking have all been demolished and there is illegal parking and messy in the hull,” he said.

He added that proposing a proposal of the caliber of carnival activities deserves timely analysis and planning. He indicated that if currently the issue of garbage management is still a challenge, during carnival times the problem can be accentuated,” he added, insisting that order and the situation in the town is in decline.

Chris Lenz, businessman and founder of Hotel La Compañía in the Old Town, said they were surprised to learn from the media that carnival activities would be held in the area.

Sales of new cars increased 16% in 2023, according to figures presented by the Association of Automobile Distributors of Panama (ADAP).

The union expected to increase car sales by 23%, but due to the paralysis of activities between October and November, the growth rate brought by this activity was affected, mainly in the operations of both workshops and marketing companies, according to the president’s admission. outgoing ADAP, Miguel Durán.

Despite this situation, the year 2023 closed with a cumulative 48,919 cars sold according to the union’s figures.

“The biggest challenge that the union faced at the beginning of its management, last year, was to reach sales levels similar to pre-pandemic,” said Durán, indicating that it was possible to exceed 2019 sales by 2%.

The ADP hopes this year the pace of growth in car sales will resume, which also in 2023 will record positive figures for electric cars and also for hybrids.


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