THE DEBT owed by Venezuelan importers to Panamanian companies in the Colon Free Zone (ZLC) has been reduced from $400 million to about $40 million, officials said Wednesday, Dec. 28
Deputy Foreign Minister Luis Miguel Hincapié told Acan-Efe that the lowering of the debit is the result of a “document clearance” carried out between the companies and the Panamanian free zone.
Hincapié told the RPC radio network that this reduction was not due to payments made by Venezuela, “but because many businessmen made false invoices and wrote down merchandise that they were not sending.”
He said that negotiations will continue to seek ways for Venezuelan entrepreneurs to pay off the debt through negotiations with the authorities of both countries.
In October, the deputy foreign minister said that Panama negotiating with Venezuela is the most viable way in which the South American country can free foreign exchange to pay off the debt.
The debt with Panamanian companies, including Copa Airlines, the pharmaceutical industry and the Colon Free Zone, exceeds $1 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI).
Venezuela has been governing exchange control for more than a decade, and the State must approve the use of foreign exchange to enable them to pay their bills abroad, and to airlines operating in the country.