Wednesday 4th January 2023.

January 4, 2023

The deputies of the various benches of the National Assembly approved this Tuesday, , to summon the ministers of Commerce and Industries (Mici), Federico Alfaro, and of the Environment, Milciades Concepción, to answer a questionnaire of 23 questions on the negotiations of the contract between Minera Panama and the Government. The summons was presented and supported by the independent deputy Juan Diego Vásquez, who also said that the national director of mineral resources must appear. According to the deputy, the proposal was supported by the benches of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), Cambio Democrático, Panameñista, Molirena and independents. He said that these officials must appear as soon as possible and urged the president of the Assembly, Crispiano Adames, to establish the date on which they must attend the plenary session. “I agree with this summons, to see what is in that blessed contract,” said PRD representative Jairo Salazar. Among the questions are: What is the current state of the negotiations? Is there a roadmap, deadline established for completion? How did the Government arrive at the figure of $375 million in contributions? What are the obstacles holding back the negotiations? The following questions also appear: The company has said that it agrees with the payment of contributions of $375 million. Is that true? If true, what other condition stops negotiations? Why was it that after months of announcing the agreement, the company decided not to sign the contract?

The Chamber of Commerce Industries, Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) called on all sectors of the country to seek solutions to the problems and that they hope that this 2023 will be a year to advance significantly towards the integral and equitable In its weekly letter “La Cámara Opina”, the business sector stressed that it is evident that solutions to common problems require all sectors of society, within respect and where a participatory and constructive dialogue occurs. “In other words, we depend not only on the Government, but also on private companies and workers; We need the wisdom of our adults and the energy of our young people so that as a country in 2023 we can generate a new cycle of prosperity. The document states that this year should represent an opportunity to work on an educational plan worthy of the 21st century, which allows Panamanians social mobility. It is emphasized that it is urgent to update the methodology and educational plans, aimed at continuous improvement. In addition, that the Panamanian youth demands a modern education with a pedagogical level of excellence. Another aspect that the Cciap points out as an issue that cannot be postponed is the economic situation of the Disability, Old Age and Death Program of the Social Security Fund (CSS) and that this must be assumed with courage and confidence. “There is no time for further expansion of the issue, which is why it is a fundamental requirement that the dialogue table for the CSS be installed as soon as possible with the participation of the workers.” On the other hand, it is highlighted that in 2023 decisions must be made to attract new foreign investments that generate well-being for Panamanians and that to achieve this, firm action must be taken to get off the discriminatory lists. “These actions must include concrete steps to strengthen the Justice Administration System and the actual enforcement of laws that combat corruption, promote transparency and accountability.” Regarding the pre-election year, the business union hopes that Panamanians can have options for governments who are allergic to corruption and who are focused on the well-being of the population.

Ariadne Maribel García Angulo took office this Monday, January 3, 2023 as a magistrate of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, in an act held in the Yellow Room of the Presidency of the Republic. García Angulo, who replaces José Ayú Prado in office, has served as a substitute magistrate of the First Civil Chamber and as a magistrate of the First Superior Court of the First Judicial District of Panama, among other positions. Manuel Mata Avendaño , who will serve as substitute magistrate of the Second Criminal Chamber; in addition to Lilianne Ducruet , who will be a substitute for the current magistrate of the Civil Chamber, Miriam Chen. The act was attended by several magistrates of the Court, including President María Eugenia López. The Attorney for the Nation and the Administration, Javier Caraballo and Rigoberto González, respectively, also attended. “I remind the new magistrate and substitute magistrates from now on, and here I must include everyone, they are sworn to the country, the Constitution , the law and their conscience in the difficult task of administering justice impartially,” stated the President.

Investments in the telecommunications industry in Panama are on the rise. As the demand for greater connectivity and data consumption increases, companies have decided to expand their capabilities. Preliminary figures from the National Authority for Public Services (ASEP) indicate that the income of telecommunications operating companies in Panama exceeded 1,115,887,000 dollars in 2022, an increase of 3.34% compared to what was allocated in 2021, which reached one thousand 78 million 833 thousand dollars. Digicel in 2022 passed to State control, after the company requested its voluntary liquidation. ASEP has insisted on the need for there to be three operators in the market to ensure competition in the market and revealed that there would be investors from Europe and North America interested in continuing with Digicel’s concession. It is expected that this year the destiny of the brand will be defined. The ASEP reports that by the end of 2022 the number of mobile phone subscribers will reach 6 million 890 thousand 901 users, which represents a growth of 7.2% in contrast to the 6 million 429 thousand 848 subscribers registered in 2021. 86 % of users are in the prepaid modality and 14% contract. It is also estimated that 62% of users have mobile broadband service and 38% do not have this service. The rate of cell phones per 100 inhabitants reaches 156.8, and mobile service coverage covers 96% of the population in 38% of the territory.

In the week of December 25 to 31, 2022, 7 deaths from covid-19 were registered , for which the accumulated number of deaths from this virus in the country amounts to 8,575, according to the epidemiological report of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) released This Tuesday, January 3. Meanwhile, a total of 2,066 new infections were registered that week. For that date, a total of 19,665 tests were applied, which yielded a positivity of 10.5%. Active cases so far add up to 3 thousand. Of this last number, 2,893 are in isolation, 104 in a hospital ward and 3 in intensive care units.

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