Varela elected president, the Canal workers’ strike ends, and more – Weekly News Roundup, May 8th

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Welcome to the Panama Weekly Offshore Roundup! This week, we take a look at the new president elect, United Airlines adds a Denver nonstop, the Canal strike finally ends, and price controls are on the new government agenda. Here’s the latest:

Panama construction strike ends, canal expansion work resumes

After months of an intense standoff between workers on the canal expansion project and developers, the strike has ended, and work is set to resume. The dispute between the consortium of developers and construction workers was over wages, and scheduled pay increases.

“Work has partially resumed today … it is estimated staff as a whole will gradually return in the coming days,” Grupo Unidos por el Canal, the consortium expanding the waterway, said in a statement. The consortium, led by Spain’s Sacyr and Italy’s Salini Impreglio, declined to say whether the December 2015 target date for its completion would be pushed back.

Construction workers walked out fifteen days ago, demanding higher wages, halting work on hundreds of projects, including building a third set of locks for the Panama Canal.

Source: Reuters


Panama President-Elect Promises Price Controls

Just days after being elected as the President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela is getting ready to implement his campaign promises. The president, who promised to take on inflation, is preparing to cut food prices on basic goods by implementing a country-wide series of price freezes; a move that is widely popular with the public, and criticized by his opponents.

Hours after his victory, Varela reaffirmed that his first order of business as president will be to sign a decree imposing emergency price controls on 22 basic goods, everything from rice and eggs to cuts of meat.

He said the move will save families $60 a month without costing the government a single penny. Instead he will demand “sacrifices” from wholesalers and retailers he accuses of charging “speculative” prices as Panama imports more than 60 percent of its food.

Source: ABC News


United Airlines to add Denver-Panama City nonstop flight

In what seems like a weekly occurrence, you can add another major world city to the list of nonstop flights from Panama. This week, United Airlines – who is partnered with Copa through Star Alliance – announced that it would be adding nonstop flights from Denver to Panama City, starting this year. Denver is one of the western US’ biggest travel hubs, and will bring in a significant number of passengers, both for business and tourism.

The carrier plans daily service on the route from November through August and will reduce the schedule to five flights a week during September and October. United will use 118-seat Boeing 737-700 jets on the route, which still must be approved by regulators. The aircraft are configured with 12 business-class seats, 40 in Economy Plus and 66 in regular coach.

Source: USA Today


Juan Carlos Varela: What we can expect from Panama’s new President

Panama’s elected a new president. The man who was trailing in the polls for nearly all of his campaign pulled the surprise card, and took the presidential election this past Sunday. But, what do we know about the man? In this week’s latest blog post, we look at who Juan Carlos Varela is, and what he has in store for the future of Panama.

Varela, 50, began his political career at a very early age. After graduating from Georgia Tech University he returned to Panama to work in the family business, a major rum producer called “Varela Hermanos.” He also got involved in local politics, and by the time he was 30, was elected as chief of the Panameñista party, the same party he currently belongs to.

Varela continued a successful private and political life until 2009, where he teamed up with former President Ricardo Martinelli, to run as his Vice President. This move was seen as a bold one, as Varela had announced his own presidential bid, but retracted it in order to unite the parties, and take on a lesser role.

Continue reading about Panama’s new president.

About Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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