Temas Especiales

24 de Ene de 2022


A flip-flop on Coastal Strip taxes

As a columnist one often feels part of the silent minority when it comes to discussing subjects like corruption, lack of planning, polit...

As a columnist one often feels part of the silent minority when it comes to discussing subjects like corruption, lack of planning, political ineptitude, white collar crime, and all those other things that bedevil the mind, but seem to produce no massive public reaction since the waving white handkerchiefs in the dying days of the Noriega dictatorship.

Only the lack of security seems to produce a common bond between the various levels of the citizenry, from those who huddle at night in walled encampment, to those at the other end of the scale who live in the ghettos where police fear to tread, and taxis refuse to take honest inhabitants who have finished their working day, earning minimum wages or less. So, It’s nice to be counted with the majority for a change.

Nearly 85 percent of those who took part in an Estrella poll, believe that it’s time to turn from the slime of Murciagate, and its multi-level allegations involving politicians of many persuasions. Instead they want the candidates to actually concentrate on issues.

It’s a nice thought, but don’t hold your breath. This election campaign has produced more mud slinging, accusations and counter accusations, trips to the courts and the electoral magistrates, than any since the dictatorship was replaced by “democracy” and its over layer of corruption, and closet skeletons. (Too many in different camps who liaised with, or silently supported through business ties the former regime.)

As the Balbina Herrera campaign self destructs, we can look forward to a new regime, led by a successful businessman who will have ample opportunity to prove he has the skills to be a unifier, lead the country forward and sometimes accept no for an answer, a quality not always evidenced when you head your own empire.

A NEW READER. Good news for all those living in Bella Vista, Paitilla, Calidonia, Punta Pacifica and other areas who will supposedly benefit from a rise in property values from the new maze of highways and concrete paths that will form the Coastal Strip (Cinta Costera). President Martin Torrijos has announced that the residents and businesses will now not have to pay extra taxes for the next 10 years. It was a hard sell from the beginning, especially as realtors have been out there trying to close sales with the carrot of “no property taxes” for 20 years.

We wonder if the president or his team of advisors have been reading the column which, as regular devotees know, has been voicing opposition to the task (and special deals for the Fishing and Yacht Club) for over a year. Now if only the government in its dying days could turn its attention to that privileged enclave. But that might be difficult to do. It seems that most legislators are not taking time to visit the Assembly. Yesterday no quorum. Are they out job hunting?

Meanwhile there has been a rash of new appointees to permanent health jobs, straight out of dental or medical school. Others have survived as contract workers for up to 12 years.

AGGRESSION. Once upon a time psychologists liked to attribute car color choices to the driver’s temperament, like red for aggression. In Panama a taxi license plate will do. But at least they are working folk, and can attribute their rush to push and shove to a need to earn their share of the shrinking dollar pool.

But what of those who cruise the city streets armed with giant cow catchers, that look like assault weapons on the front of their monster SUVs? I am told that years ago, in the area near the Contraloria on Avenida Balboa, they once unloaded cattle en route to the abattoir. Occasionally one or more doomed animals would break free for a last run on the streets. I haven’t seen any loose cattle recently, but the cow catchers are around, seemingly aimed at anyone patiently waiting in a traffic jam who does not squeeze out of the way of the would be rancher.