Wednesday 5th October 2022.

October 5, 2022

The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) , which is part of the Great National Alliance for Panama, which brings together at least 150 sectors of the country’s productive sector, asked the Archdiocese of Panama to communicate to the National Government the requirements that they have defined for their participation in the second phase of the dialogue. This is due to the fact that next Thursday, October 6, the second phase of the talks begins between representatives of the government of Laurentino Cortizo, the three alliances that paralyzed the country last July, and other sectors of civil society, such as the business class. The meeting will take place at the Technological University of Panama, in the capital city. However, later they will return to Penonomé, Coclé province, where all the meetings of the first phase of the dialogue took place. In the letter sent to José Domingo Ulloa, Archbishop of Panama, dated October 3, the Chamber of Commerce details seven requirements to join the talks: qualification of the mediator, definition of clear rules by the mediator, methodology, legitimacy of the actors, definition of issues and objectives, information necessary for dialogue, and respect for constitutional rights. The seventh point is controversial, since the business sector states that they will only participate in the dialogue with social actors if “an environment of respect is guaranteed in work spaces, as well as the right of free movement for all citizens.” They add that “they reject any act of pressure that alters public order and democratic dialogue.” On repeated occasions, during and after the end of the first phase of the dialogue, some of the alliances that participated in the talks stated that they could organize new street closures, in protest of the Government’s non-compliance with the agreements of the Penonomé table. The Grand Alliance for Panama has also proposed that the moderator of the second phase of the dialogue “be suitable and prepared in mediation”, and that it be accepted by all parties. Regarding the methodology, in the letter they allude to the framework of the National Concertation for Development, whose organization is contemplated in Law 20 of 2008. Finally, they ask the Government to provide all the actors who sit at the table “with information, you will see, official and complete” on the points to be discussed so that decisions can be made in accordance with the reality that the country is experiencing. For her part, the Minister of Labor and Labor Development, Doris Zapata, who participated on behalf of the Executive in the first phase of the dialogue in Penonomé, assured that the methodology and the moderator must be defined in order to advance with the second phase. “We have stated that we want to continue in a dialogue process that allows for transformations,” said Zapata. However, she recalled that they are “in a governance process” and that they have “responsibilities” as the National Government. “We are going to continue with our government plan,” she said

The risk rating agency Fitch reaffirmed Panama’s sovereign rating at BBB- with a stable outlook, maintaining the country’s investment grade. The agency based its decision on the country’s high per capita income, a record of strong macroeconomic performance with high growth rates and relatively low inflation. However, Fitch warns that the country remains susceptible to the external environment due to its dependence on international financing. Likewise, the agency maintains that the government’s revenue base is relatively narrow, coupled with an uneven track record of meeting fiscal consolidation goals. In updating the sovereign rating, Fitch notes that the protests last July revealed discontent with social concerns, including poverty, inequality and levels of corruption. This last point significantly offsets the points in favor of the country, said the rating agency. “Social unrest may have fiscal implications beyond this year, as it could increase social spending pressures,” the agency says. Regarding growth prospects, Fitch points to 9%, which exceeds the Government’s estimate of around 6%. Growth, according to the firm, will stand at 4.5% in 2023, down from the previous projection of 5%. “Risks are increasingly on the downside as a mild recession is expected in the United States in mid-2023, in addition to an adverse global economic scenario,” the firm notes. In its analysis, the agency considers that the inclusion of Panama in the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force has not had material negative economic effects, and hopes that it will continue to do so, although getting off the list remains a key legislative challenge and is an important component of the country’s politics

The economies of Latin America and the Caribbean have recovered a certain sense of normality after the most uncertain moments of the pandemic, with which the World Bank forecasts that there will be a regional growth of 3% at the end of 2022, a higher rate than expected previously due to the rise in the prices of raw materials. However, the global uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine, the rise in interest rates in developed countries and the relentless inflationary pressures will impact the economies of this part of the world in 2023 and 2024.The agency forecasts low growth rates for the next fiscal periods, of 1.6% and 2.3% in 2023 and 2024, respectively, in part because the prices of  raw materials are expected to fall by 10% next year, while the The US Fed funding rate has already risen 1.5 percentage points and the Federal Reserve is about to increase it by another 2.5 percentage points. In the case of Panama, the World Bank estimated that the gross domestic product (GDP) will grow 6.2% this year, and then adjust downward, with 5% in 2023 and 2024.“Most economies have recovered to their pre-pandemic levels, but this is not enough. The countries of the region have the opportunity to rebuild better after the crisis and  achieve fairer and more inclusive societies ,” said Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean. In this context, social and infrastructure investments can become key drivers of growth and shared prosperity, according to  the World Bank report “New Approaches to Closing the Fiscal Gap,” presented to the media of the region via zoom from Washington, United States. One of the report’s conclusions is that the strong countercyclical fiscal policies that were implemented throughout the region to support households and businesses during the pandemic eroded the scarce fiscal space achieved by countries in previous years. Hence the importance of having highly efficient public spending. Some transfers, such as those linked to fuels, represent a huge portion of public spending in some countries and are proven regressive, in addition to not contributing visibly to developing the human capital of the poorest families, the agency warned. ” It would be convenient to eliminate them in the long term, although a better targeting in the short term would result in notable cost savings. Protecting public investment—particularly in infrastructure—in those countries with large infrastructure gaps, also seems to be extremely important as determinant of long-term growth and to help release positive synergies with private investment,” the agency stressed in the report.

The Judicial Branch (OJ) announced that it will broadcast the interviews of the 55 candidates for magistrate of the Electoral Court (TE) that will begin on October 11. A press release from the JB details that those who are interested in following the selection process of candidates for TE magistrates will be able to see the interview process through the website, since in the room where The interviews will be carried out, the public will not be allowed.Candidates for the position of TE magistrates have until 5:00 pm on October 7 to present their documentation at the General Secretariat of the Court.  The document also specifies that all comments made regarding the applicants for the position must be made personally in writing, signed with the personal identification number of the interested party. The call, which is made by virtue of the constitutional mandate established in articles 142 and 327, numeral 3 of the Constitution, which is addressed to all citizens who have an interest and meet the requirements established in the Magna Carta. The Plenary Session of the Court will choose the replacement for Judge Heriberto Araúz and his alternate Myrta Varela de Durán, whose 10-year term ends on November 14.

The island of Bali and the city of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, are the venues for this year’s Miss Grand International (MGI) pageant. The contest, which emerged in Thailand in 2013, has become one of the most popular and recognized among the followers of this type of contest. 72 candidates from all over the world compete in this year’s edition, whose final will be on October 25 at the Sentul International Convention Center, south of Jakarta. The contestants, including the Panamanian Lala de Sanctis, arrived at the beginning of October on the island of Bali to carry out a series of activities before the final gala. Lala was Miss Panama 2017 and had already participated in Miss Universe that year.


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