Panama Jumps on Price-Control Bandwagon

Juan Carlos Varela, president of Panama
Juan Carlos Varela, president of Panama. (Wikipedia)

EspañolToday, July 7, marked the implementation of price caps on 22 retail products from Panama’s basic food basket. These are according to the new price-control law, which excludes Darién province and the islands. It was the first measure taken by President Juan Carlos Varela on July 1, the same day his inauguration took place.

Among the 22 products included in the plan are rice, medium-sized eggs, yams, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, T-bone steak, beef shank, whole chicken, tuna, milk powder, yellow cheese, lentils, and sliced white bread.

Every grocery store will have to offer a brand of each product at or below the established maximum sale price, and each product must have a sign that identifies it as part of the “Pocket First” program.

Melitón Arrocha, Panama’s minister for trade and industry, pointed out that those retail stores that do not follow the new law will be fined up to US$1,000. The Authority for Consumer Protection and the Defense of Competition (ACODECO) will ensure that the price control law terms are complied with.

Also, Varela will soon establish a price-adjustment commission — led by the ministers of trade, agricultural development, the economy, and finance — to evaluate the requests of organizations and professional guilds.

The first retail chain of stores to implement the program was Rey supermarket last Friday, and the majority of retail chain stores started implementing “Pocket First” this week.

Price regulations from the executive stem from and are defined by Law 45 of 2007, sanctioned by president Martin Torrijos. Business leaders, however, are complaining that this provision is only supposed to be applied to products whose import tariffs exceed 40 percent of the good’s value, and none of the basic basket products have such a high tax.

Source: La Prensa.

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