Although it was expected to happen this year, the legislation that standardizes the issuance and circulation of checks will enter into force in February 2016.
The Superintendency of Banks in Panama, working in conjunction with the rules on banking union, announced that the new rules will come into effect in February 2016, and the checks that have been issued before this will have a period of 18 months after the entry into force of the new standard to be taken out of circulation.
In April this year the mortgage loan portfolio of the banking system amounted to $12 billion, 15% more than in the same month in 2014.
The growing demand for homes in Panama is the main factor behind the steady growth in mortgage lending, which is expected to continue rising due to the deficit that still exists in the availability of housing.
The growth in the portfolio between April 2014 and March of this year was $1.545 billion.
The portfolio of mortgage loans at the end of 2014 exceeded $11 billion, with the categories of social interest loans and homeownership loans recording the highest growth rates.
Credit for housing increased by $1,142 million compared to 2013, followed by the commercial sector, where $195 million more was invested than in the previous year, according to the Superintendency of Banks in Panama (SBP). At the end of 2014 mortgages "... represented 7% of the 4 million active references which reside in the database of the Panamanian Credit Association (APC)."
"It is imperative that banks have the necessary controls that enable them to timely detect suspicious money laundering activities."
The new president of the Banking Association of Panama (ABP) is proposing the creation and implementation of a Code of Conduct for unionized entities, similar to what exists for other banking associations in the region.
Banks struggling to keep their correspondents and restrictions for Panamanian companies in the external financial market, are some of the consequences of being on the FATF's gray list.
The Panamanian government expects to submit, within the next month, a bill to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, which seeks to control the vast majority of economic activities by requiring additional controls to those which do not have increased supervision. With this measure they hope to get off the gray list and meet the deadline set by the Financial Action Group, which expires in June.
On October 22nd the sixth bank security forum in Panama will he held and will address issues related to risk management and security of transactional systems.
The event being run by the Banking Association of Panama (ABP), will discuss issues such as the form and migration of the crime of bank robbery, cyber Banking Security, Security for ATM's, computer crimes and research methods in Panama, among others.
The Panamanian banking sector has suggested that the government create a new entity focused on formal promotion of the international services offered by the country.
Industry representatives are hoping that the National Assembly and the new Minister of Economy and Finance, will take actions against the entry into force of Law 47 which establishes a regime of custody for bearer shares. In addition, there will shortly be a meeting in New York with eight international banks to present the current scenario, the actual risk and counter negative perceptions that have damaged the international image of the country in recent months.
The Association of Banks of Panama has filed a lawsuit alleging that the concept of the tax retention agent is unconstitutional.
The Association of Banks of Panama (ABP) believes that the agreement which empowers the Panamanian municipality to select companies that bill more than $5 million as tax retention agents is unconstitutional. The agreement regulated in 2013 turns firms in auditors and collectors of tax for the municipal coffers.
Additional provisions by banks for loans to companies in the CFZ are a "medicine worse than the disease."
The Association of Users of the Colon Free Zone (AU) fears that the bank contingency measures, ordered last week by the Superintendency of Banks of Panama (SBP), will limit bank lending to companies in the CFZ.
The portfolio of loans granted through credit cards grew by 18% between November 2012 and November 2013.
Up until November 2013, the balance of active cards reached a total of $1.207 billion, while in the same period of 2012 it was $1.021 billion, representing an increase of 18% , according to statistics from the Superintendency of Banks of Panama (SBP).
The private sector has proposed that free competition in the generation market be maintained and it not be regulated and that there be a permanent plan to promote energy savings.
From a press release issued by the Presidency of Panama:
The Energy Agency Committee, comprising of representatives from the private sector, handed over to the Presidency Minister, Roberto Henriquez, a proposal to make the energy market in Panama more dynamic and economical.
The annual growth of 13% of the International Banking Center has unveiled staff shortages, mainly in specializations such as compliance, risk and auditing.
Roberto Gonzalez, in his article in Prensa.com, explains that "the first consequence, as related by the bankers themselves, is the occurrence of cannibalism between businesses and employees salaries are being raised."
In March the balance of new bank loans reached $34.339 billion, which is $4.729 billion more than earned in the same period of 2012, when the total was $29.61 billion.
Figures from the Superintendency of Banks in Panama (SBP), reveal that most of the growth in lending balances is in the private sector, with $4.3329 billion, while the public sector only received $396 million.
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