International edition
September 26, 2021

Exclusive interview to Antonio Alfaro, president of ASAJA in Panama

Games of chance will not be affected by the tax reform in Panama

(Panama).- Panamanian National Assembly approved last Friday 12th, in the third and last debate, the tax reform bill that is now subject to the approval of the government. It is planned to come into force from July 1st. After a debate that lasted 20 days, finally the new tax increments will not be applied to the casinos.

W

hich were ASAJA objections towards the tax reform bill?
Basically, the sector claimed that, in September 2009, an agreement had been reached with the state so, through the payment of a larger operating fee, it could cooperate with the new government in the achievement of the funds required in order to comply with the promises of campaign. This way, a first “negociated” increment in September could not be modified right now, increasing the contribution agreed just six months after the previous approval.

In which way would this reform have affected the sector?
ASAJA, on behalf of the full casinos members of this trade sector, talked with the authorities and presented its points of view before the National Assemble, with regards to the excessive tax that was to be charged. Besides, this increment, as was not “negotiated” as the previous one, would have become an infringement of existing contracts, in a very harmful sign for future investors.

What position did you expect to take in case the project would have been approved without modifications?
ASAJA and its members had been analyzing different scenarios: from the demand to the Supreme Court to the written statement of unconstitutional to the infringments of contracts
until the international demand of the violation of the legal security to the foreign investment stipulated on those contracts. Thanks to the General Secretary of the Gambling Control Committee, the entity of control of the industry understood our point and defended it before legal authorities. The reform proposed has not been given this time. This way, the casinos remained in the same legal sphere than in September 2009.

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