Thursday, May 29, 2008

Movement at former Ice Tower construction site

A building crane is being set up and work continues at the site of the former Ice Tower. The builders of the former project refunded the down-payments to prospective buyers or consigned the deposits with local courts in order to wind-up the former project.

Ice Tower Reader

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Regulations for Immigration Law are being drafted

Draft regulations for the Immmigration Law Decree 3 of 2008 are being circulated for comments. The regulations are meant to compile our requirements into a single document and avoid differing interpretations by government officials. Among the main changes from current practice would be:

- Applicants only have 10 business days after placing of a notice to remedy any defect in their documents,
- The Immigration Consultive Commission (formerly National Security Commission) is authorized again to impose nationality quotas for residency,
- Tourists deemed "personna non grata" may be denied entry on a non-discriminatory basis,
- Tourists may remain in the country for 90 days, renewable for 60 days when justified,
- Foreign workers must have a salary between US$1,000 and US$1,500 monthly to apply for
residency and work permit, up from US$500,
- Investor visas may only be requested by one applicant per company,
- Forestry visa minimum investment is doubled to US$80,000,
- Small-business investor visa is eliminated,
- Macro-business investor visa minimum investment is doubled to US$200,000,
- Self-solvency investor visa minimum investment is increased to US$350,000 left in deposit for 4 years.

The categories for temporary resident visas are named in Spanish as follows:
1. Por razones laborales
* Permiso de residencia temporal a contratado por el gobierno nacional o entidades autónomas o semiautónomas.
* Permiso de residencia temporal a contratado por empresas contratadas por el gobierno nacional.
* Permiso de residencia temporal bajo Resolución de Ministerio de Trabajo dentro del 10% del
personal panameño contratado por la empresa.
* Permiso de residencia temporal dentro del 15% del personal especializado tales como gerente,
personal de confianza, técnico o experto
* Permiso de residente temporal en calidad de Ejecutivo de Zona Libre
* Permiso de migrante remunerado desde el exterior
* Permiso de residencia temporal miembro de prensa escrita o televisiva internacional
* Permiso de residencia temporal de Acuerdo de Marrakech
2. Por políticas especiales
* Permiso de residencia temporal de productor, actor, técnico de cine y televisión
* Permiso de residencia temporal por Convenio de la Ciudad de Saber
* Permiso de residencia temporal por la Autoridad del Canal de Panamá
* Permiso de residencia temporal del Ärea Económica especial del Panamá-Pacífico
* Permiso de residencia temporal dentro de Zonas Procesadoras para la exportación
* Permiso de residencia temporal por Servicios en Centro de Llamadas (Call Center)
* Permiso de residencia temporal en calidad de ejecutivos de compañías internacionales
* Permiso de residente temporal en calidad de migrantes que laboren en Empresas Multinacionales
3. Por razones de educación, cultura y salud
* Permiso de residencia temporal para en calidad de migrante que se someterán a tratamientos medicos
* Permiso de residencia temporal para en calidad de investigadores y científicos
* Permiso de residencia temporal en calidad de estudiantes
4. Permiso de residencia temporal en calidad de religiosos, misioneros y misiones humanitarias
* Permiso de residente temporal en calidad de misionero, religioso al servicio de la iglesia católica y ortodoxa
* Permiso de residente temporal en calidad de misionero laico al servicio de la iglesia católica y ortodoxa
* Permiso de residente temporal en calidad de estudiante para ser religioso
* Permiso de visitante temporal en calidad de misionero religioso basado en el artículo 35 de la Constitución Nacional
* Permiso de visitante temporal a extranjeros que ingresen por Asistencia Humanitaria Internacional.
5. Permiso de residencia temporal de dependiente de un residente temporal.

The categories for permanent resident visas are named in Spanish as follows:

1. Por razones económicas
* Permisos de Inversionista
* Permiso de Solvencia Económica Propia
* Permiso de Pensionado o Jubilado
* Permiso de Rentista Retirado
2. Por políticas especiales
* Permiso para migrante que inviertan en empresas contratadas por Autoridad del Canal de Panamá
* Permiso para migrante que inviertan empresas que se encuentran en el Área Económica Especial Panamá-Pacífico
* Permiso para migrante de promotoras u operadoras de Zonas Procesadoras para la Exportación o empresas que se encuentran dentro de esas zonas.
* Permiso para migrante que inviertan en Call Center
* Permiso para migrantes que inviertan en la Industria Cinematográfica
3. Por razones demográficas
* Permiso bajo Sistemas de Cuotas
* Permiso de Reunificación Familiar
4. Por Convenios Internacionales

The information comes from a draft, so it is subject to changes before its enactment.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Government under energy-saving schedule

The Panamanian Government has enacted a decree whereby effective May 19 government workers will work non-stop from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Workers of government-owned public utilities will continue with the normal schedule.

For Immigration, this translates into a special schedule:
Visa applications, extensions and multiple-entry filings will be received ONLY on MONDAY, WEDNESDAY and THURSDAYS 7 AM to 11:30 AM
Consultations will only be provided on THURSDAYS.
All entry to the public will end at 12:00 PM.

The usual queue for a limited number of applications will be outside the Immigration office at 6AM.

"Y las sonrisas, esas son gratis!"

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Latin America’s First “Branded City” Planned for Panama Gold Coast


December 3rd, 2007

Latin America’s First “Branded City” Planned for Panama Gold Coast

Meneren Corporation, a US-based international project development/project management company today announced that it expects to resume completion of the detailed master plan for a 3,000 Hectare waterfront community along the Gold Coast of Panama, in Cocle Province.

The preliminary master plan for this new community was crafted by internationally recognized North American master planning firms in 2006. It provided for 10,000 residential units situated on a series of golf courses, fresh and salt water marina’s, and an equestrian center.

The incorporation of a Village Center, with commercial and retail space, an Ecological Center, several resort hotels, casino’s and spa’s, combine to create what is called a “Branded City” in booming overseas markets. Branded Cities have been very successful because their Developers have the ability to plan, design and build a fully sustainable community from the ground up. Grand Panama, as it is being called, will have an ultimate population of 25,000 and provide post-construction employment for an estimated 5,000 Panamanian’s.

Grand Panama, will be designed and constructed using important “Sustainable Development” principles. Meneren Corporation was previously selected by the United Nations to complete a specialized development master plan to protect one of the most sensitive ecological treasures in the Eastern Hemisphere, and Meneren hopes to make Grand Panama one of the “greenest” large scale projects in the America’s—something that the people of Panama can be especially proud of.

Meneren Corporation and its technical team have global experience in planning commercial marina’s and commercial cruise terminals, and believe that integrating a “mega-yacht” harbor into the Grand Panama master plan will benefit locals and international visitors to Panama and the region.

The initial master plan effort for Grand Panama was suspended when the land which had been sold to Grand Panama International Ltd, Meneren’s Client, became entangled in one of the most contentious Probate Court disputes in Panama’s history. After a year and a half of intimidating charges and counter charges between the Legatees and the Executor of the estate, Meneren is now hoping that the land purchase can be allowed to go forward by the Panama’s courts in order to finalize the master plan and Government permitting process over the next months.

Point of Contact: Bill Tolbert, 1-303-221-3369

Full text in

Grand Panama Project

(For 2008 PDF Presentation,
Click Here
2007 Powerpoint


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Merchant accounts provide new way to get dollars

While most of the world economy is fleeing from the dollar to the euro and other economies, Venezuelans are opening credit card merchant accounts with banks in Panama and the Netherland Antilles to provide dollars to other Venezuelan nationals and making up to 20% in fees for that.

Venezuelans taking circuitous route to get dollars

WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao: Stroll down Columbustraat. Enter the smoke-filled lobby of the San Marco Hotel Casino. Proceed up one flight of stairs to the front desk. Dial room 106. Bring a credit card issued in Venezuela.

In a desperate quest to get their hands on American dollars, Venezuelans are flocking to this island in the Netherlands Antilles to take part in this elaborate backroom scheme and dozens of others like it to get around currency controls imposed by the government of President Hugo Chávez....

Trying to slow capital flight, Venezuela limits its citizens to $5,000 in annual credit card purchases abroad. That is 10,750 bolivars, at the official exchange rate of 2.15 to the dollar. But at the prevailing black-market rate of 4.5 to the dollar, the amount more than doubles to 22,500 bolivars.

Seizing on that gap, some Venezuelans began coming to Curaçao's casinos last year and using their credit cards to buy chips. They then played a few hands and cashed in the chips for dollars, which circulate here along with guilders. But the casinos soon prohibited them from buying chips with their cards, because so few of the people were actually using the chips to gamble.

Middlemen then moved in, organizing trips for Venezuelans and charging a 20 percent commission for cash advances at the office of a merchant, like the travel agency in Room 106 of the San Marco Hotel. The middleman and merchant divide the $1,000 commission, leaving the Venezuelan with $4,000 in cash.

With a wink and a nod from local banks that process the transactions, the middlemen dummy up receipts, often for expensive electronic items, offering the travelers an alibi in case they are audited by back in Venezuela by bureaucrats loyal to Chávez.

Full text in

Willemstad Journal

Island’s Treasure, the Dollar, Lures Venezuelans

Published: March 13, 2008

...Some Venezuelans hold the dollars as a hedge against economic uncertainty, while others exchange them back in Venezuela for bolívars at the black-market rate, for a profit. The merchants get hefty commissions for swiping credit cards.

And in an illustration of where some of Venezuela’s oil wealth is going, some middlemen have accumulated fortunes. “I made $300,000 in December alone,” said Roberto, 31, a middleman who would not give his full name out of concern of being identified as a profiteer.

Full text in