Tuesday 6th February 2024.

February 5, 2024


The National Council of Private Enterprise (Conep) delivered to the presidential candidates on the morning of Monday, February 5, the report “Country Vision 2050,” which covers the sectors of the economy with the potential to boost the country’s growth.

The document explores the potential of traditional sectors such as tourism, logistics, agriculture, as well as other emerging ones such as the creative industry, which includes cinema, the development of new technologies, video games, among others, which can generate new sources of employment.

Likewise, it addresses the importance of resolving the supply of drinking water for human consumption, as well as to guarantee the operations of the Panama Canal, one of the country’s main assets.

Temístocles Rosas, president of Conep, pointed out the limitations that slow down the country’s growth, such as the swollen state payroll, subsidies, salary increases due to special laws, the weight of the debt and the possible loss of investment grade.

Rosas emphasized that all these factors limit the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment.

He recalled that the next administration must also face high unemployment, especially among the youngest, as well as improve the quality of education.

Citing studies carried out by the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the document prepared by Conep refers to the growth potential in the logistics sector, with investments that exceed 8 billion dollars in the port sector, water treatment projects for more than one billion dollars, not counting the plans of the Panama Canal Authority to increase the availability of water for the operation of the waterway, which would also be around one thousand millions of dollars.

The document also highlights the potential of tourism, which until October 2023 generated foreign exchange of more than 4.5 billion dollars, and investments in agri-food chains that can be developed throughout the country, with investments estimated at 3 billion dollars.

Other sectors that still have room for growth are foreign trade, with a transformation of exports into manufactured products to markets already known to Panama, such as Central America and the Caribbean, which have registered significant growth in recent years, according to Alfredo Du. Bois, economist at Conep.

To promote these sectors, the Private Business Council considers it important to review current legislation, such as the Panama Tourism Authority law and the industrial development law, as well as increase international tourism promotion.

At the end of the presentation of the Country Vision 2050, Rosas handed the document to Aida Maduro, candidate for vice president of Melitón Arrocha, who obtained one of the three places to compete for free nomination, but who was later nominated by the Independent Alternative Party Social (PAIS).

Camilo Alleyne, Gabriel Carrizo’s running mate, for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena) also received the document; Ricardo Lombana, from the Other Path Movement party; and Richard Morales, who accompanies Maribel Gordón, who will also compete for the free nomination.

Zulay Rodríguez was present, for the free nomination; Rómulo Roux, who leads the alliance of the Cambio Democrático and Panameñista parties; in addition to Martín Torrijos, nominated by the Popular Party.

Francisco Ameglio also attended, representing the Realizing Goals party, which had been nominated by Ricardo Martinelli for the Presidency of the Republic, but is now prevented after the Supreme Court of Justice did not admit the appeal that sought to reverse the conviction in the New Business case.

Conep reported that on February 28 it will hold a new meeting with the economic teams of each of the candidates to find out how they will address the challenges and opportunities raised in the Vision 2050 report.

Last Sunday, January 28, the Electoral Tribunal (TE) decided to hold a mock election. It was not with ballots or ballot boxes, but with their administration and election networks. It was about a fictional scenario of attacks on their servers and firewalls . They wanted to know if they would withstand a hacker attack and if they could counter it. The results were devastating.

“The lack of adequate controls in security policy based on the best practices in the industry puts us in a position of vulnerability, not only in terms of effects on the TE’s operating network, but the electoral process could be affected , creating a stir. national and upset the population, since the TE, in the face of public opinion, would fail in its role of guaranteeing free and transparent elections,” the Technology and Communications Directorate of the TE revealed in a report.

Faced with this situation, the TE’s own technicians recommended a series of measures , several of them “expensive”, but remembering that “due to the lack of planning by previous administrations, they have been accumulating to the point that they cannot be postponed.”

La Prensa consulted the president of the TE, Alfredo Juncá , who told this medium that “we protect ourselves with penetration tests, but I am not able to comment further, because this is an issue that the plenary session handles in a very confidential manner. “We are working on these processes.”

The inconsistencies and deficiencies in the audits of the Social Security Fund (CSS), specifically in the case of the loss of fentanyl, have led to a new investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, which has so far been able to validate that in the entity there are terrible administrative controls of medications.

This was revealed on the morning of February 5 by Attorney General Javier Caraballo, who announced that the institution in his charge is leading two investigations related to the disappearance of the fentanyl doses.

Caraballo answered several questions that the deputies of the Credentials Commission of the National Assembly asked him in a summons to consider his ratification to the position.

The official said that although these are ongoing investigations, it has become clear to them that the case is based on an “extremely flawed” audit.

He spoke of inconsistencies between what the CSS says, those that were lost and the recipes that are managed in the system.

“In many cases, doctors withdrew fentanyl and no prescriptions were requested. There are other cases in which doctors asked for prescriptions and did not use them.”

Hence, he explained, the Attorney General’s Office has had to re-audit the entire process. “That has not been fast. We consider that in the coming months we will be able to provide a response to the community,” said Caraballo.

Last year, the loss of 19 thousand vials of fentanyl was reported at the Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid Hospital Complex of the CSS.

Internal investigations by the CSS indicated that numerous requests were made for fentanyl vials prescribed for the same patient, as well as the lack of control of the keys where the controlled medications were kept, among others.

“What we can say is that Panama does not have a fentanyl problem,” said Caraballo, who mentioned the epidemic in the United States as a reference, in areas where about five deaths are reported daily due to addiction to the drug, while in Panama has not reported any deaths. “If that happened in Panama, it would be noticeable in the streets. And there are no reports of consumption or deaths,” he reiterated.

Former President Ricardo Martinelli tried to get the Superior Court of Criminal Cases of the First Judicial District of Panama to lift the ban on leaving the country that he has had since 2020, but the measure remains in force, in accordance with Edict No. 36 of December 2. February 2024, set in the secretariat of the Criminal Chamber.

Four years ago, Martinelli received precautionary measures preventing him from leaving the country due to the New Business case, which were requested by the Prosecutor’s Office Against Organized Crime.

This February 5, 2024, at 10:00 am, the recent edict was notified, which ratifies the precautionary measures. It bears the signature of Yaris de McCoy, judicial secretary.

The decision denies the habeas corpus promoted by lawyer Carlos Carrillo, one of Martinelli’s defenders.

Last Friday, February 2, it was learned that the Second Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court did not admit an appeal presented by former President Martinelli against the sentence of 128 months in prison and a fine of $19.2 million for money laundering, precisely of the so-called New Business case .

Martinelli had run as a presidential candidate for the May 5, 2024 elections for the political parties Realizing Goals and Alliance, but with the conviction he is disqualified. He can’t leave the country either.

After 10 years of the tortuous sale and purchase of RG Hotels, Inc., and the failure to make payments of $30 million to the bondholders, the First Liquidation Court of Criminal Cases set for February 15 the preliminary hearing followed by six people involved in the alleged fraudulent purchase of the Whyndham Grand Playa Blanca hotel, property of RG Hotels.

The process is being followed against Manuel Cristóbal Valencia , Antonio Bonilla Ruíz , Ricardo Antonio Bonilla , Howard Víctor Rodríguez , Gregory Luis Key and Fran Magliato for the alleged crime against economic assets, in the form of aggravated fraud, with economic damage due to the sum of $49 million against the merchant Rugiere Gálvez Marcucci.

At the hearing it will be determined whether there are sufficient elements to open a criminal case against the people under investigation.

Accusations of fraud and scam between buyers and sellers did not wait since the purchase of the beach conglomerate was completed in 2014.

Gálvez, holder of the shares of Inversiones Santa Fe Holding, owner of RG Hotels, Blue Vacation Inc and Casa de Campo Farallón, SA , signed a contract for the sale of these assets, for a value of $60.7 million and consideration for more than $100 millions.

Its counterpart was Guardian Finance Group, later replaced in the operation by Nabali Investment Corp., whose visible face was the businessman Antonio Bonilla.

Nabali Investment Corp. filed for the bankruptcy of RG Hotels, alleging that the hotel group’s assets had a book value of over $100 million, but after reviewing the documents and appraisals in depth, they showed that these were inflated figures.

The lawsuit ended with the bankruptcy of the conglomerate.

At the time, Gálvez alleged that the buyers faked facts that made them look like businessmen and investors with great economic power to assume the obligations of the purchase and sale contract in exchange for him transferring all of the shares of the company Inversiones Santa Fe Holding. But they “deceived” him and he did not receive the agreed financial benefit.


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