The threat of residential tourism in Panama


 (from La Prensa, translated into English by Google)


 Residential Tourism is a term widely used, but an ambiguous meaning that is not properly defined the phenomenon of retirees who choose to Panama as a destination to retire.  This phenomenon has as one of its origins Act 9 June 24, 1987, which provides benefits to attract foreign retirees, including exemption from paying taxes for the importation of household goods, furniture or utensils until by 10 thousand dollars, and the waiver of taxes for the importation of a vehicle every two years and other benefits that far exceed the laws of neighboring countries.

 These perks are an affront to the dignity of retired Panamanians.  While they pray for the Social Security Fund has the money to pay, retired foreigners receive unnecessary and exaggerated benefits.

Moreover, the manner in which some real estate agencies to promote Panama abroad is humiliating for our dignity as a nation: "The call to come and take advantage of the benefits package more amazing world, in a country where there a rarity Panamanian-hire an employee who lives in your house and you only have to pay 120 dollars a month. "
 It is true that generates a large construction activity and that the real estate sector has a vitality than ever before in the country, but if we look beyond the branches covered with green leaves tickets covering our faces, the horizon presents challenges unsuspected for our most vulnerable population.

 Pensioners are foreigners, mostly, an aging population that is not much to contribute to national life.  It is very different from, for example, a family of Venezuelans who want to leave their country by the fact that Chavez and come to work in Panama, to produce and grow with the country.  Retirees come to spend the last years of his life isolated from the rest of the country in places like paradisiacal Boquete and Bocas del Toro, among others.

 A lie that I hear constantly is that in those places there is total employment, but if you visit you will find that the only jobs that are abound of employees and gardeners.  And that is what we want for Panama?  Is our vision of development that our population is servant of foreigners?

 The main effect of this wave of foreign retirees, has been the exaggerated valuation of the land.  For example, earlier in Bocas del Toro a local could save thousand 500 dollars to buy a piece of land and build their homes.  Now the same piece of land can cost up to 200 thousand dollars, and I am not exaggerating.  What causes this?  The displacement of the population of these areas and their replacement by an aging population and low productive without mentioning the ecological damage that produces the "development".  The most dangerous of this exaggerated increase in land value is that many farmers are beginning to assess whether it is better to continue to produce coffee, rice, milk and corn or sell their land to foreigners and go to something else.  We are not far from converted see our productive coffee huts in retirement and our rice fields, golf courses.

 As a result of this action, in the coming years will increase the shortage of these commodities in the diet of Panama, which must import them and thereby reduce our independence food.  In what sense?  At make us more dependent on the vagaries of international markets and the economic powers.

 Another fatal effect of evil called residential tourism is an increase of wild life in the areas arriving foreigners, which gradually produce "natural" emigration of nationals.

 It is time to change this law and eliminate some of the incentives for foreign retirees.  Why?  Because precisely residential tourism is an activity that requires less incentive, given the natural benefits that Panama offers.  Remove some benefits not stop the avalanche of retirees, but perhaps to slow the pace at which the country can absorb without affecting the quality of life of Panamanians.  I know that many lawyers and real estate brokers would disagree with this approach, but must think of the great majority and not just in the pockets of a few.

 The author is an engineer