Wednesday 11th January 2023.
January 11, 2023
The ministers Federico Alfaro and Milciades Concepción did not appear on Tuesday, January 10, before the National Assembly to answer 23 questions about the situation of Minera Panamá, by presenting excuses and requesting the change of date for the summons. In this Tuesday’s session, during the reading of correspondence, three letters were read with the reasons that the officials presented for not attending on this date. Alfaro, head of Commerce and Industries, reported that he could not appear because he will be undergoing a previously planned medical procedure and that he will be attentive to a new date. Concepción, Minister of the Environment, requested an extension to the subpoena in his notification since he is collecting more details of the information requested in the questionnaire on the contract with Minera Panamá, which has mining operations in Donoso, Colón. Meanwhile, the director of MICI Mineral Resources, Jaime Paschales, who was also summoned, informed the Assembly that due to previous commitments acquired by the entity’s work team, he would not be able to attend. In the session held on January 3, the plenary session of the National Assembly approved to summon for this Tuesday, January 10, the head of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI), Federico Alfaro Boyd, the Minister of the Environment, Milciades Concepción, and the director of MICI Mineral Resources, Jaime Paschales, to answer a series of questions related to the contract between the State and Minera Panama, as well as the status of negotiations for a new agreement between the parties.
The Government of Panama reacted to the call that Tristan Pascall, the CEO of First Quantum, held yesterday morning, with financial analysts, in which the executive “made several assertions in relation to his consultations with the Republic of Panama regarding the mine that do not reflect the reality of the situation.” This was expressed in a statement that the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (Mici) drafted and circulated on Tuesday afternoon. One of the fundamental points raised by the Government of Panama is that there are more than “few” pending disagreements between the country and Minera Panama to reach an agreement that entails a new concession contract with the company, a subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals. According to the Mici, the parties disagree on fundamental issues such as royalties, deductions for depletion, international measures to mitigate tax evasion, ITBMS, scope of easements substantial breach and termination, among others. According to the Panama analysis, the miner’s negotiators have presented proposals that offer more benefits to the company in favorable scenarios, when the price of copper is high, and not only protections in unfavorable scenarios, when the price of copper falls. . Until now, the communication from Minera Panamá has remained on the route that what they need are guarantees for when the price of copper is down. Panama, however, today has given concrete examples of what the company would be proposing in regards to the so-called depletion, which implies a decrease in the number of years that the guaranteed minimum income will be paid and decreases the economic benefits for Panama in scenarios when copper price and production are high. “This would cause the economic benefit of Panama to be considerably lower than that of countries in a comparable situation and would result in an asymmetric economic benefit to Minera Panama.” The royalties are only one component of the economic benefits of Panama, detailed the ministry that has led the negotiations of a new contract between Minera Panama and the State. In this case, it was explained that the royalties provided for in the contract proposed by Panama are nominally higher because the other components of the economic benefit package, which includes taxes, are nominally lower. In this sense, the Mici indicated that Panama’s complete economic benefits package, made up of royalties and taxes, and not just one component, must be compared when determining if it is consistent with international standards for mining contracts.
Economic losses, which are still being evaluated, due to a fire that consumed the various merchandise warehouses of about five companies in the France Field area in the Colon Free Zone. The fire, which started at 6:50 am, reached a warehouse where flammable merchandise such as perfumes, alcohol, chlorine, aerosols and other items are stored, which caused an explosion, while the heat from the flames caused Much of the structure likely to collapse. Paul Batiste, chief of the Colón Fire Department, reported that pumps and tankers from the province were used to put out the fire, with the support of the Panama Canal Authority station and fire trucks from Panama City. The low water pressure and lack of hydrants limited the work of the firefighters to extinguish the fire that took more than 5 hours to be controlled and left a fireman with minor injuries. The Association of Users of the Colon Free Zone expressed in a statement that the lack of immediate and sufficient reaction from the province’s firefighters, who needed support, is the result of the lack of will of the governments on the serious problem of infrastructure in this zone of International Trade. “The Colon Free Zone, for this lack of water, has been punished for years by local insurers and international reinsurers, with the most expensive insurance premiums within the commercial activity of the country and also very selective, to the point that some blocks of buildings simply do not qualify as insurable due to the historical infrastructure problems, already mentioned”, it is reflected in a statement.
A recycler found a corpse on Tuesday, inside the Cerro Patacón landfill, Ancón township. According to preliminary investigations, the first thing he found was the part of the trunk, between the abdomen and the head, in a state of decomposition inside a black bag. The rest of the body was among the garbage “tied up wrapped in a sheet and black bags.” Immediately, the Homicide and Femicide Section of the Metropolitan area took up the case and began an investigation. “The result of the autopsy is awaited to establish the cause of death,” reported the Public Ministry. It is not the first time that human remains have been found in this landfill. On December 2, 2022, a group of recyclers found a human head in the trash. At that time, the Police indicated that the head could be that of a man, who was possibly murdered in the area of the Tuira and Chucunaque buildings, in Betania.
Two subjects entered the San Pablo Apóstol parish, in La Locería, to assault parishioners and the priest on the night of January 9. The robbery occurred at around 7:00 pm during a parish meeting between the group of people and the priest. The two men, wearing black clothing and hats, entered with a firearm and a knife, according to witnesses. They fled in a taxi, driven by another person. According to members of the parish, contacted by La Prensa , nobody was injured.
The Comptroller General of the Republic reported that –according to the information obtained from the mobile capture devices– some 55,307 homes were visited during the first day of registration. This, without counting the surveys carried out with the paper questionnaire in areas of difficult access, indicated the Comptroller’s Office in a statement. On Sunday, in the morning hours, the Comptroller’s Office began to take a census of the country, a pending task since 2020. Some 7,000 enumerators, accompanied by 2,000 supervisors, travel throughout the country, in a process that will last until next March 4. This Monday, January 9, 2023 – and for the first time – a census has begun for Oeste Panama as a province. West Panama is the newest of the 10 provinces that make up the Republic of Panama. It was created by Law No. 119 of December 30, 2013, but came into effect on January 1, 2014. Oeste Panama has a census planning divided into 16 regions that starts from Arraiján to San Carlos; each headed by a regional inspector. The Comptroller reiterated that in this census it is not necessary for all people to be at home. The appropriate informant will be able to provide the data of the rest of the household members. In addition, the population will not be immobilized.