Wednesday 12th October 2022.

October 12, 2022


The passage of irregular migrants through the Darién jungle, on the border with Colombia, registered a notable increase in the month of September, when at least 48,000 travelers arrived at the migratory reception points. According to figures from the National Migration Service, 48,204 migrants were counted in September, which represents the largest number for a month in 2022. In general, it is detailed that from January 1 to September 30, 151 thousand 582 irregular migrants were registered who arrived at the migration posts in the province of Darién. It is important to highlight that of the previous number, 107 thousand 692 (71%) are Venezuelan migrants. Even of the 48 thousand 204 travelers reported in September, 38 thousand 399 are from Venezuela. Migration statistics specify that until September the passage of 21 thousand 570 minors has been counted, in September the figure was 6 thousand 999. It is important to highlight that the figure of 151,582 exceeded the 133,726 irregular migrants reported in all of 2021. Panama has reiterated in different regional forums that the migration crisis must be faced with shared responsibility among the countries of the region. Most of these migrants aim to reach the United States.

Amid the noise caused by her departure from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs , a decision announced by the Presidency of the Republic on the afternoon of Monday, Erika Mouynes sent a letter to President Laurentino Cortizo thanking him for the opportunity he gave her to serve to the country and assures that she always looked after Panamanian interests. In a two-page letter, Mouynes lists her achievements and goals achieved during his year and 10 months as head of the Panamanian Foreign Ministry. She refers, for example, to the migration crisis in Darien and the coordination efforts carried out by the ministry. In addition, it highlights the key role played by the Foreign Ministry in negotiating with foreign pharmaceutical companies for the acquisition of vaccines against covid-19 in the most complex moments of the health emergency. This, she states in her letter, she achieved with the support of Cortizo. Mouynes referred to the efforts of her administration to strengthen Panama’s relationship with the United States at all levels. She quoted Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the charge d’affaires of the embassy in Panama as saying that relations between the two countries “are at their best moment.” She also referred to the strengthening of Panamanian relations with strategic partners in Asia. Shortly before her departure from the Foreign Ministry, Mouynes toured several countries in the Eastern Hemisphere. In the letter dated, October 11, Mouynes raised other issues that promoted her management, such as gender equality, climate change and efforts to improve Panama’s reputation before key international actors. On the issue of gender, she referred to instances where she raised her voice for not having enough women in decision-making. “My speech was consistent and was demonstrated by the firm positions we took against the reception in Panama of an ambassador accused of abuse,” she stated in the letter, referring to the controversy over the ambassador proposal made by Mexico last year. “With a clear conscience, I know that I have looked after the interests of my country, a country that I do not renounce and for which I will continue working, in pursuit of the more egalitarian and just future that society demands. Mr. President, please receive my gratitude and affection for having allowed me the incomparable honor of serving my country”. With this phrase she closed her letter addressed to President Cortizo. Mouynes did not resign from her post, she was separated from it and replaced by the now Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Janaina Tewaney, former Minister of Government.

The Presidency of the Republic reported this Tuesday, that Roger Tejada was appointed as the new Minister of Government, replacing Janaina Tewaney Mencomo, who yesterday was announced as the new Foreign Minister of Panama. Since the administration of President Laurentino Cortizo began in July 2019, until yesterday, Tejada served as Vice Minister of Labor and Labor Development. This is the second movement in the cabinet that has been carried out in the last few hours, after Minister Mencomo was appointed as head of Foreign Affairs to replace Erika Mouynes. It remains to be seen who will occupy the position in the Vice Ministry of Labor.

Agents of the National Police, together with personnel from the Ministry of the Public, carried out a search this Tuesday morning in the village of Pueblo Nuevo and proceeded with the apprehension of a person who is allegedly linked to the robbery of the 50th street Banesco bank branch. “According to the first investigations, this person, who was identified, maintains a record of convictions for robberies and thefts recorded in the years 2015 and 2018,” said the Public Ministry. The robbery occurred on September 3, 2022 and the authorities announced that a vehicle was located in the diligence that was allegedly used to commit the act. In the last two months there have been four bank robberies in the capital city; Similar events also occurred in a branch of the National Bank of Panama and in two others of the Savings Bank.

The Minister of Security, Juan Manuel Pino, reported that the security support that the National Police is giving to state banks will be temporary. Pino explained that this support for state banks will be given until these entities improve their security systems, after two branches of the Savings Bank and one of the National Bank were robbed in the last two months. “There are deficiencies in the protection and security of banks,” Pino reiterated on Tuesday. “Through the Police we are always in that position of cooperating and we have to pay attention to it because two robberies in a row in less than a month is something that draws attention,” Pino said about the two cases in the Savings Bank.He emphasized the importance of investing in protection and security.  The last bank robbery was this Monday, and took place at the Savings Bank branch in the El Ingenio sector. This is the second robbery at the Caja de Ahorros in less than two weeks. On September 27, the same thing happened at the branch in Plaza Galápagos, in front of Villa Lucre, district of San Miguelito. That time they took $39,633. On September 3, a robbery was also recorded at the Banesco bank branch (a private entity) on Calle 50. In addition, on August 13, at least $600,000 was stolen from the Banco Nacional de Panamá branch. located in California. For this last case there are seven people arrested, including three bank officials.

The Superior Court of Settlements reformed a ruling of the Third Liquidator Court of Criminal Cases and opened a criminal case against 32 people for alleged money laundering in the so-called Lava Jato case . The Public Ministry through its twitter account reported the decision made by the Superior Court of Settlements, after on June 16 the Third Liquidator Court of Criminal Cases issued a dismissal in favor of all the defendants in this case. In that decision, Judge Baloisa Marquínez assured that the prosecution’s investigation could not establish the amounts of the money received from offshore companies. The information given by the Public Ministry does not indicate the date for which the trial was set. Last March, the second prosecutor against organized crime, Isis Soto, requested that 32 people be called to trial for alleged money laundering. The investigation began with reports linking the now defunct Mossack Fonseca law firm with the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering, in relation to the so-called Lava Jato operation, deployed in Brazil.

One of the challenges of the Panamanian system is to expand the tax base, that is, the number of people who contribute with the payment of taxes, mainly on income. The Revenue Director, Publio De Gracia, admitted that there is room to make the collection and payment system more efficient. In this sense, one of the challenges is to keep track of people who generate income through digital media and social networks, who are also subject to income and tax payments, although the number of taxpayers covered by the digital economy is still unknown. In Panama. “If the income they generate is territorial, that influencer who uses the technological platforms must comply with their tax obligations like anyone else,” said De Gracia, indicating that this includes the self-employed worker, the wage earner who does additional work, the youtubers, tiktokers and other people, depending on the income they receive. The director of the DGI said that a law is being worked on that covers the issues of taxation and the fiscal commitments of the digital economy. He recalled that all those who receive income above 11 thousand dollars must pay income tax. De Gracia said that they recognize the evaluation carried out by the Tax Observatory that revealed some deficiencies in the DGI, by identifying the excessive bureaucracy in the tax payment system in the country. He specified that they are working on digitizing more processes. To date there are 160 online procedures, at the beginning of his administration there were barely 37, according to him.”The pandemic also prompted the digitization of many processes, but it must be recognized that there is a significant delay related to the legal tax department and some requests related to real estate.”  He indicated that they hope to encourage the use of online procedures because currently, for example, in the case of electronic invoices, only 14,500 taxpayers use this system, out of a total of 100,000 legal entities and about 90,000 individuals.”The electronic invoice can help reduce times because the time will come in the medium term, that the declarations and reports will be duly pre-filled because the information will arrive electronically and the taxpayer only  has to accept or not,” he said.



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