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The Laurentino Cortizo Administration, Including Follow Through on Campaign Promises

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First cabinet council axes food authority

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President Laurentino Cortizo

Posted 03/07/2019

The first  Cabinet Council presided over by  President Laurentino Cortizo, at the National Institute of Agriculture (INA), in Divisa approved on Wednesday, July 3, a proposed law that will eliminate the Panamanian Food Safety Authority (Aupsa).

The initiative was presented and supported by the Minister of Agricultural Development, Augusto Valderrama.

The Cabinet, , also endorsed the proposed law called "Study without hunger." The food guarantee initiative will be for public schools and will use only national products. Imports will only be allowed if there is a shortage.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal that transfers the National Secretariat for the Food and Nutritional Security Plan (Senapan) to the Ministry of the Presidency and endorsed the National Water Security Plan and establishes the National Water Council and the Technical Secretariat.

A bill on public-private partnerships presented by the Minister of Public Works, Rafael Sabonge also got the green light.

INA Students made a line of honor for the arrival of Cortizo and the Vice president, José Gabriel Carrizo. "I feel very honored," said the president when he was greeted with applause reports TVN.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/first-cabinet-counicil-axes-food-authority-1

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New procurement law cuts companies with criminal records

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Posted 03/07/2019

The Cabinet Council approved on Wednesday, July 3, a bill that modifies the Law on Public Procurement, which includes an article that would eliminate companies with collaboration agreements or that have confessed to crimes, like Odebrecht, and businesses involved in the Blue Apple bribery scandal.

Gaspar Tarté, an adviser, explained that the improvements to the law are concentrated in six aspects, "besides, obviously, transparency". The first, he said, is the promotion of SMEs. "The small companies interested in providing the State with products, goods and services, who unfortunately die on the way ... because of the bureaucracy,". 

It also includes the promotion of the purchase and acquisition of Panama produced food up to $7 million. In the case of construction they can also do public events where they are limited to only national companies, also up to $7 million, added Tarté. 

Local businesses 
Public events will be held both in municipalities and in community meetings where only companies from those municipalities or boards will be able to participate in the bidding

Another highlight, said Tarté, is the  speed of public contracting acts. "This law considerably improves the periods of admission, resolution, both in the General Directorate of Public Procurement and in the Public Procurement Court," he said. 

Another aspect emphasized by Tarté are changes to the evaluation committees. "Evaluating committees are one of the main concerns that providers have when a public act takes place."

The proposal establishes that the evaluation committees will randomly come from a system that will be managed by the Public Procurement Directorate and none of the members of the commission may be officials of the bidding entity.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/new-procurement-law-cuts-companies-with-criminal-records

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President proud of top cop role

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Posted 04/07/2019

"I feel honored that just as on July 1, I committed to being the first worker in the country, today I am also the first policeman of the Republic and I am honored with that distinction," said President  Laurentino  Cortizo said at the ceremony. delivering command pennants to the National Police, The  Aeronaval Service, and the Border Service on Wednesday, July 4.

 Jorge Miranda Molina is the new police chief, Oriel Ortega Benítez heads the National Border Service (Senafront), and Juan Manuel Pino Forero assumed command of the National Aeronaval Service (Senan).

 "The National Police must guarantee peace and citizen security," he said and crime will be fought with information, intelligence, and technology.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/president-proud-of-top-cop-role

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New team leading the Panama Maritime Authority sets priorities

Noriel Arauz

Noriel Arauz

Panama's new President Laurentino Cortizo has sworn in his cabinet and with it a new team for the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) that oversees the maritime sector and the world’s largest Ship Registry.

Noriel Arauz, a naval architect, will be the AMP Administrator and Minister of maritime affairs. Arauz is praised for good technical knowledge and his appointment has been applauded by the local maritime sector. 

He will be accompanied by nautical engineer Samuel Ferreira as deputy administrator; and at the direction of merchant marine and head of the Ship Registry by nautical engineer Rafael Cigarruista. 

Cigarruista has a wealth of experience in Casualty Investigation, Flag Inspection, Classification, Certification of Vessels and STCW (seafarers) requirements, having worked previously in different areas all related to the flag implementation requirements and responsibilities.

Arauz told Seatrade Maritime News that one of his objectives is “to integrate the sea to the politics and economy of Panama and enforce special training for Panamanian seafarers.” 

“My priority is to make sure we respect international conventions, be ready for the Sulphur Cap of 2020 since we have an important bunker sector, maintain our flag position in the White List of Paris MoU and continue to give our Ship Registry customers a good and efficient service.”

 “We have also to work in preparation to receive the Audit of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) which measures Panama's compliance with the OMI Compulsory Instruments, which must be carried out in the year 2021.” 

 “In addition to current international regulations, there are regulations that will come into force as of next year, such as those seeking to reduce to 50% sulphur oxide emissions from ships, and those related to illegal fishing, with the certification of the crew members on board the fishing vessels and with the procedures of supervision by the State Master of the port worldwide,” said Arauz.

Posted 07 July 2019

 

http://www.seatrade-maritime.com/news/americas/new-team-leading-the-panama-maritime-authority-sets-priorities.html

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Cortizo commits to 2022 sports extravaganza

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Posted 18/07/2019

PRESIDENT t, Laurentino Cortizo, met with the organizing committee of the Central American and Caribbean Games, Panama 2022 and stressed his commitment to the $200 million projects. The sporting event that was last held in Panama in 1970. "I feel good and I like what I'm seeing," Cortizo said. Among the committee members is  Olympic gold medalist, Irving Saladino (right).

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/cortizo-commits-to-2022-sports-extravaganza

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Cortizo honeymoon ends as Martinelli smarms

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Ricardo Martinelli sees blue akies a head

Posted 20/07/2019

When a government begins, it is given an opportunity. The opportunity to shut our mouths while doing things are going well. That is what is called the "honeymoon". The usual is 100 days, enough to realize its intentions. But this has broken a record because its cards are on the table - and especially under the table - only 20 days after taking possession.

Xenophobia
The deputies have dominated the news agenda with that sketch of a draft law on migration, which leaves us Panamanians as true fascists and xenophobes, in a country where nationals and foreigners have coexisted in peace. But now it turns out that we are the divine pomade, perfect examples of humanity that we do not tolerate that someone tells us is ugly, because, according to  Zulay Rodríguez, we are all beautiful.

Meanwhile, under the surface, hidden behind the cries of Zulay, politics begins to wreak havoc. It already seemed contradictory to the anti-corruption discourse of the PRD that on the first day of the government the ex-deputy Dana Castañeda. was elected as undersecretary of the National Assembly This lady gave more than $500,000 of state funds, between 2013 and 2014, to an employee of her brother, money that was deposited in a private bank. Until today we do not know what was its final destination.

But further down, far from public scrutiny, in the National Police there are changes and relocations of personnel that put at risk - coincidentally - research that affects people of the PRD - and CD - who works or worked in the National Assembly, for the use of money that deputies assigned to certain communal boards or to personnel they appointed in order to extract money from their salaries.

I wonder now, who will denounce these things? Who will be the opposition? Democratic Change? The election of Yanibel Ábrego as vice president of the Budget Commission - and of Castañeda in the undersecretary - makes me think no. Much less when I read Ricardo Martinelli on Twitter: "I think the whole country should be happy today because there is health and better days are coming for everyone." You do not need two fingers to guess that Martinelli is talking about Martinelli.

Is it the Panameñista Party? That group is so decapitated, that if you ever think about making opposition, you will have to send us a memo so that we all know. Thus, it is clear that there is a kind of PRD-CD alliance neither written nor recognized, but which, in fact, is triggering.

 So much flattery of the PRD  by  the excerpt from El Renace r[prison] only confirms that good days will come for him - and others like him - because, finally, I believe that the PRD is doing his promised work: ans is joining forces with CD.- Rolando Rodríguez B.,- La Prensa

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/cortizo-honeymoon-ends-as-martinelli-smarms-1

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Moderator comment: A better title for this article might be "The Austerity Posture of the New Cortizo Administration".

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Varela team  splashed on $5,000 hotel rooms

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Cortizo and Carrizon promise austerity

Posted 26/07/2019

Shortly after the Cabinet Council announced a new austerity plan for the administration Deputy Minister of Economy, David Saied,  told a press conference that who said that during the recent visit of President Laurentino  Cortizo to the United States they stayed in $300 rooms and that he did not charge per diem for the official mission.

Later in the conversation with the media, Vice President José Gabriel Carrizo compared that with the previous administration’s visits.

 “There were a series of expenses in the past government as inconceivable like paying rooms of $4,500 or $5,000  …) I go back and repeat, the previous president was in a huge black limousine. Only by car travel, we are going to save the state more than one million dollars, ”said Carrizo.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/varela-team-splashed-on-5000-hotel-rooms

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14 minutes ago, Moderator_02 said:

 “There were a series of expenses in the past government as inconceivable like paying rooms of $4,500 or $5,000  …) I go back and repeat, the previous president was in a huge black limousine. Only by car travel, we are going to save the state more than one million dollars, ”said Carrizo.

The VP offers no proof of the hotel room expenses he referred to and I can tell you that every President over the last 15 years has been wheeled around in either a black Toyota LandCruiser or LandCruiser Prado.

Is President Cortizo going to drive his own pickup truck or something?

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21 minutes ago, Keith Woolford said:

The VP offers no proof of the hotel room expenses he referred to and I can tell you that every President over the last 15 years has been wheeled around in either a black Toyota LandCruiser or LandCruiser Prado.

Is President Cortizo going to drive his own pickup truck or something?

 

We may have another Janet Reno.

 

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Corrupt officials go home  or to jail - Cortizo

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Laurentino Cortizo

Posted 01/08/2019

Any government official who is found to be an irregular situation "goes home or to jail." said President Laurentino Cortizo following the resignation of Rubiela Pitano designated director of the National Disability Secretariat (Senadis), who is facing a legal process. 

In his first presidential address, Cortizo said that "no indivual or economic interest is above the national interest."

According to anti-corruption prosecutors, Pitano received funds for donations, alleged to come from the forms of the National Assembly that were assigned to former deputy Rubén De León over the last five years. Including the rime that served as president of the legislature.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/corrupt-officials-go-home-or-to-jail-cortizo

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OPINION: Top cop protecting and serving who?

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Jorge Miranda

Posted 14/08/2019

It is hard to believe that the president of the Republic is unaware of the actions of the head of the National Police, a subordinate of his. Asking the protected witness in the case of punctures to return to Panama to join the service sends a message of complicity with those who would like to harm him, only because he fulfilled his duty to report facts for which there are already two convicted persons. Jorge Miranda, instead of keeping loyalty to the country, the institution and his colleagues, feels greater empathy and fidelity for his former bosses, especially from the period June 2012-July 2014, when he was director of Police Intelligence, precisely the two years of the government of Ricardo Martinelli in which it was confirmed that communications were spied without judicial authorization. It seems that Miranda cares little that many witnesses said they were threatened, and that some complainants have even suffered physical aggressions. If the president wants to look the other way, don't expect the rest to do it. Acts of such irresponsibility with the life of Panamanians only confess Miranda's incompetence to protect and serve. - LA PRENSA, Aug 14

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-top-cop-protecting-and-serving-who

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Buck stops here president revokes police chief move

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Cortizo, not consulted

Posted 14/08/2019

After an outcry from media, prosecutors and civil groups President, Laurentino Cortizo, assured the media on Wednesday, August 14  that "the protected witness will stay where he is."

The comment followed statements given on Tuesday, August 13 by Ricaurte González, prosecutor against Organized Crime, who expressed concern about the physical integrity of the protected witness in the wiretapping trial of Ricardo  Martinelli, after learning that the National Police had plans to repatriate him.

Cortizo said that he is committed to ensuring that the State guarantees security, not only to this witness , but to any other protected witness in present or future cases.

The protected witness is serving as a police attaché before the Council of Delegates of the Inter-American Defense Board of the Organization of American States (OAS), in Washington. US.

After a trial court on Friday August  found Martinelli not guilty of the accusation made for political and peculated espionage, the director of the National Police, Jorge Miranda , requested the return of the protected witness.

In an act to deliver property titles organized by the National Land Administration Authority (Anati) in December 24, on Wednesday  Cortizo reiterated that "the protected witness will continue to be protected."

"I have meetings with the Security Council once a week and I have once a week, too, meetings with the Public Force, and that issue was not addressed," he said.

"This has not been approved by the President. In the end, the last decision is made by the President of the Republic ... I do not know where [the witness] is, but where he can be calm," he added.

The official, who was an agent of the National Security Council in the Martinelli government (2009-2014), offered details of how the interception of communications of at least 150 people was made, without judicial authorization.

In the oral trial of Martinelli, the witness voluntarily stripped himself of his anonymity and testified on the stand, under oath. Everyone present knows his identity, but the judges forbade public disclosure or discussion on the subject, outside the courtroom.

Meanwhile calls are growing for the firing of police chief  Miranda.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/buck-stops-here-president-revokes-police-chief-move

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OPINION: Assembly collision course looms

Posted 01/09/2019

Exactly two months ago, Laurentino Cortizo took possession. The population welcomed with optimism the speech of the new president regarding economic and social development, as well as his signs of a possible inclination towards respect for the independence of the organs of the State. With a renewed Assembly, in which 35 of the 71 deputies are co-supporters of the new president, there were no predictions of tensions like those that distinguished the last years of the previous government, when the appointments requested by the then Chief Executive opened the door to a war of low intensity that compromised the approval of important laws. But Cortizo does not seem to be immune to such a situation, not because he is facing a political break with his party’s bench, but because some deputies of that faction boost their own agenda, invading some powers of the Executive. Thus we see that, without any study of the problem or articulation with the government objectives, members of the PRD bench promote certain legislative proposals that are heading towards a collision with the policies defined by the Executive. Although the independence of both bodies could even be commendable, hopefully, these outbursts of the Assembly are a simple way to generate sporadic attention, and we are not facing a new legislative modality to be feared, and then quietly resolved at the forefront of prebends. - LA PRENSA, Sep 1

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-assembly-collision-course-looms

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Bar association challenge president on education promises

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Bar Association offices

Posted 09/09/2019

The National Bar Association (CNA) has added its voice to spreading concerns over a government move to equate  work experience in the public sector with formal education which conflicts with election promises on education.

On Sunday, September 8, the  Association  asked President Laurention Cortizo  for clarification of an

August 6, resolution which equates the necessary formal education with previous work experience within the General Manual of Occupational Classes in the Public Sector. The manual is the technical reference that contains  the description of each occupational class

 The resolution would conflict with the promises of  Cortizo, that education will be the star that would guide the Government.

According to the CNA, Law 9 of 1984 regulates the practice of law in Panama and establishes clearly and precisely the requirements for the exercise of the same. Several other organizations and citizens have reacted by this resolution.

The star
The union asks Cortizo to subscribe to his promise: “Education is the Star that will illuminate the country” and says that the  ANC supports initiatives that in educational matters that serve to increase the quality of services in the public sector, administration of justice and society in general.

The lawyers have called on society in general and professionals to verify that public positions are exercised by qualified professionals, in accordance with provisions of the Law.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/bar-association-challenge-president-on-education-promises

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Cortizo speaks on climate change and poverty at UN

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Posted 25/09/201

Panama President, Laurentino Cortizo, presented his first speech on Wednesday, September 25 before the General Assembly of the UN on Wednesday, September 25 and took time to discuss climate change  and the eradication of poverty

Cortizo made the call one day after the Climate Summit was held. In this, few agreements were reached and the United States was reluctant to support multilateral actions in the face of the environmental crisis.

The Panamanian president, who will participate as a liaison between the Contact Group and the Lima Group to discuss the situation in Venezuela, referred to the importance of dialogue between nations.

“Panama proposes greater spaces for dialogue and regional and global understandings. I don't talk about eternal dialogues, I mean the dialogues to unite and resolve, ”he said.

“For every word I speak here, thousands die in an unfair war, without doctors or medicines. In it a few earn millions, and millions lose millions, ”he said, referring to poverty and inequality in the world.

"The biodiversity of the planet is in our hands. We must all change to avoid the danger of becoming extinct. The multilateral processes to strengthen the climate change regime must be deepened. and what is signed must be fulfilled," Cortizo said.

“In Panama, there are more than 10,000 varieties of plants and a thousand species of birds. The biodiversity of the planet is in our hands. All united, we must change to avoid the danger of becoming extinct. There are millions of endangered species! Multilateral initiatives to strengthen the climate change regime have to be deepened, and what is signed must be accomplished. ”

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/environment/cortizo-speaks-on-climate-change-and-poverty-at-un-1

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NO More Trade Agreements, For Now

In Panama, the Cortizo administration has announced that it does not plan to sign new trade agreements, as what the country currently needs is to "strengthen its exporters.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Representatives of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries informed that until the exportable offer of Panama is strengthened, they will begin to advance in the negotiation of commercial treaties with other countries.

Juan Carlos Sosa, Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, explained to Prensa.com that "... Before moving forward and talking about treaties, we really need to prepare our exporters, have well-certified plants and keep looking for those business opportunities for Panamanian products."

With this decision, the Free Trade Agreement negotiations with China, which reached the fifth round, would be blocked.

See "Panama - China FTA: Fifth Round of Negotiations

In this regard, Sosa said that "... Panama will continue to work on achieving export protocols to the Asian country of new processing plants for beef, pork, chicken and shrimp. Relations with China are excellent and besides export we are promoting technology and logistics projects. The trade issue with China has not stopped, but the issue of the FTA will be seen little by little."

Wei Qiang, China's ambassador to Panama, said in mid-September that the Asian country is still interested in negotiating a high-level free trade agreement.


 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/NO_More_Trade_Agreements_For_Now

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Business leaders give thumbs up to Cortizo’s first 100 days

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President Cortizo

Posted 06/10/2019

Panama’s Chamber of Commerce (Cciap) has given a qualified A grade to the first 100 days of the administration of President Laurentino Cortizo which "have been marked by the political will to affirm a climate of democratic stability,” said a report published, Sunday, October 6.

For the Cciap "it has done so by approaching and consulting with representative sectors of the national society."

The Chamber says that in these 100 days, several promises of Cortizo have been given that are aimed at boosting the revival of the national economy, such as the management of funds for outstanding payments with agricultural contractors and producers.

"It has given an important boost to tourism and initiatives on laws that, such as Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and the presentation of the draft reforms to the Public Procurement Law, are aimed at stimulating our economic dynamics," says  the Chamber

Justice System
It reiterates “the adoption of the necessary reforms to be given in the Political Constitution, a process that should ideally begin within the current legislature, with special emphasis on the Justice System, which has shown that it needs an urgent transformation. ”

The Chamber says  that the first 100 days of the new government had “a historic opportunity for designation and ratification, respectively, of the designation based on merits, as well as moral and ethical quality, of the new magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice "

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/business-leaders-give-thumbs-up-to-cortizos-first-100-days-1

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New Government: Optimism in the First 100 Days

The gradual abolition of price control, the creation of the PPP regulatory framework and greater flexibility in preferential interests in the housing market are the advances recognized by Panamanian businessmen in the first 100 days of the Cortizo era.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Laurentino Cortizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) won by a narrow margin, concentrating 33.2% of the vote, with a promise to create more favorable conditions that would allow the economy to reactivate at the beginning of May. He was followed by Romulo Roux of Democratic Change with 31%, independent candidate Ricardo Lombana with 19.1% and in fourth place official José Isabel Blandón only managed to capture 10.6%.

Cortizo's electoral victory took place against a backdrop of economic slowdown in Panama, given that in 2018 the country's Gross Domestic Product reported a 3.7% year-on-year growth, far from the 11.3% and 9.8% increases reported in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

One of the first actions taken by the Cortizo administration was to gradually abolish the price control system, since at the beginning of July it decided to reduce from 22 to 14 the number of products whose transaction values are regulated.

According to Jorge Juan de la Guardia, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), in these first 100 days of government, "... there has been an important boost to tourism and to the initiatives on laws that, like those of Public-Private Associations (APP) and the presentation of the project of reforms to the law of Public Contracting, they are directed to stimulate our economic dynamics."

The expansion of benefits in the real estate market is another of the actions that has been well received, since in September a bill was approved that establishes that, for the purchase of homes worth between $120,000 and $150,000, the government will assume 2% of the bank interest, and in the case of real estate between $150,000 and $180,000, the exoneration will be 1.5%.

The CCIAP statement adds that "... During this period, the fulfillment of promises made by the President of the Republic has taken place in different aspects, several of them aimed at promoting the reactivation of the national economy, such as the management of funds for pending payments with contractors and agricultural producers; we expect to know in the coming days how the payment schedule will be given to other suppliers."

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/New_Government_Optimism_in_the_First_100_Days

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Agricultural Production Incentives Approved

In Panama, President Cortizo sanctioned the Law that establishes that from 2024, 100% of the resources retained by the Special Interest Compensation Fund will go to the agricultural sector.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

After the National Assembly approved in third debate on October 2 the bill No. 4, which amends Law 4 of 1994, regarding the use of money that feeds the Special Interest Compensation Fund (FECI), the president of the Executive sanctioned the bill.

With the amendments to Law 4 of the FECI, the agricultural sector will begin to receive the distribution of 75% of the interest in a first stage and will gradually reach a 100% increase in 2024. The law provides that as of 2021 80% of the FECI will pass to the agricultural sector, in 2022 90%, in 2023 95% and in 2024 100% of the FECI will pass to the agricultural sector.

You may be interested in “Crops in Central America: Main Figures in 2018

A statement from the presidency explains that "... In addition, the Law indicates that it will be the responsibility of the Agricultural Cabinet to distribute the percentage destined to the agricultural sector, with the objective of promoting its sustained growth.
The new law expands the sectors that qualify to receive the discount on the interest rate including now sowing and agricultural work, improvement of productive facilities, purchase of animals, acquisition of land and investments in any of the activities. The Agricultural Cabinet Council will be able to expand the activities that receive the benefit of the law.
"

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/article/main/Agricultural_Production_Incentives_Approved

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Cortizo Japan bound for Emperor’s enthronement

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Posted 19/10/2019

President, Laurentino Cortizo, and his wife, Yazmín Colón de Cortizo left Panama on a commercial flight to Tokyo on Saturday, October 19 to participate in the enthronement ceremony of Naruhito, as the new emperor of Japan.

The occasion will be used by Cortizo and the accompanying delegation to hold bilateral meetings to attract investment and other benefits. Japan is one of the main users of the Panama Canal.

The official events are scheduled for October 22 and the heads of state and royalty from some 190 countries are expected to attend.. Some 2,500 guests have been invited to the enthronement ceremony.

The president will return to Panama on October 25.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/cortizo-japan-bound-for-emperors-enthronement

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