Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guatemalan Airport Modernization

During his visit to Montreal, Canada, Vice President Rafael Espada told representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the Guatemala government's plan to modernize its airport system, including the construction of new air terminals and the remodeling others.

Espada said that the plan is to be implemented over the next 50 years and includes building an international airport in the Pacific side, one in Puerto Barrios, and another in the Trifinio area, where the borders of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala come together.

The official also mentioned the renovation of the Mundo Maya airport in Petén as the gateway to tourism, especially for the park Cuatro Balam, which President Colom is promoting.

The cost of this ambitious project has not yet been estimated. It must include the purchase of radar systems and air traffic control systems, among others, and measures to strengthen the Directorate of Immigration and Civil Aviation.

The works would be implemented through the law of public / private partnerships which is awaiting approval by Congress.

Cost of Living is Up

According to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE), the cost of living in February of this year stood at 6.5 percent, compared to the same month last year.

Products overall showed a general increase of 6.5 percent and this is the first time that this economic indicator is within the target range projected by the Bank of Guatemala, 4.5 to 6.5 percent, although right at the upper limit of the range.

Food rose much higher than the average. The "canasta basica" or basic food basket, which is the minimum that a family of five people needs to subsist for a month, stood at 1,978.10, an increase of 17.94 percent compared to February 2008.

The monthly "canasta básica vital", which includes transportation and clothing, was valued at Q3,609.58.

The minimum wage in rural areas and the in the city is Q1,831.66.

Crucial Week for New Gun Law

This week will be crucial for the new gun law. It will be a trial by fire for lawmakers to show, as they have promised, that they will approve the law.

But first, the legislators will have to make one last effort and finish the review of the articles in this initiative. Workshops and meetings have been going on since 2008 and there are now only 10 articles remaining to be finalized, including specifying the time period within which this law takes effect and whether shooting ranges will be allowed to sell ammunition.

Some of the articles are still points of contentious debate including a decision on the number of rounds of ammunition that a licensee can purchase per month. The agreement now stands at 800 rounds per month, per caliber, but there are those who argue for less.

Of the legislation can be finalized in time it can be approved by the plenary session next Thursday. "If this initiative is not ready, we will at least try to approve a project to strengthen the prosecution of crimes related to the misuse of weapons," said Roberto Alejos, President of the Congress.