Despite the ending on 31 December of the Tariff Stabilization Fund (FET) subsidiy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, only customers who consume up to 300 kWh per month will continue to receive the subsidy that covers 20% of the electricity bill. Nevertheless, this still means that 81% of the customers of the national energy grid will continue to receive a subsidy.
In other news, there was a fire on a ship in transit through the Canal. The fire in the engine room has reportedly been brought under control and the ship towed into port.
In other news, on World Leprosy Day, on 29 January, it was announced that, between 2011 and 2022, 34 cases of leprosy had been detected in Panama, including 4 last year.
There used to be a “leper colony” at Palo Seca, a small village just west of the Canal’s Pacific entrance – an ocean-side 500-acre (202.3 hectares) fruit farm about 6 miles (9.6 km) from Panama City. It operated as a a leprosarium, having been part of the Canal Zone since the disease-ridden Canal construction period, at a site chosen by Dr Gorgas. It was run by the US authorities, under the terms of the 1903 Treaty with Panama, and it accommodated patients from both the Canal Zone and the Republic – although the Panamanian Government had stopped paying its citizens’ bills in 1958 and was by then $4.79 million behind in payments when the facility closed. From its founding in 1907 it had seen some 500 leprosy victims.
 The name means “Dry Stick” in Spanish.
 In their other territories of Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, for example, US authorities sought to isolate people with the condition. As part of its larger project of bringing “civilisation” to Panama, the Isthmian Canal Commission devised a similar plan.
30 JANUARY 2023