We had lunch in David on Saturday, we ate at the New China restaurant directly across from the Nissan dealer. We have eaten there before, they have a pretty good lunch that was $3.99 two weeks ago and is now $4.25. In addition to the price increase they have a new sign. I saw the same sign in Sugar and Spice today and I suspect we will see it all over Panama. The government believes businesses are cheating on their point of sale taxes and they have a new way to enforce compliance.
The summary of this new law is that you, the patron, has responsibility to ensure the restaurant provides you a printed receipt from a special cash register mandated by the government. These registers are designed so a government agent can come in a collect tax data automatically.
There have been protests by merchants nationally about the need to spend hundreds of dollars on these machines. The next round of protests might come from the price increases these are forcing on consumers from merchants who collected the taxes and in the past failed to report the revenue; those businesses just lost 7% of their income.
There might also be some consumer backlash to what the sign states. You, the consumer, need to have your receipt when you leave the restaurant. Amazingly if you are asked for your receipt and fail to produce it you will be fined one dollar or 7% of the value of the food you ate. This of course is absurd, but it is the new law.
When we paid our bill at New China, I asked for my receipt. The waitress was shocked, went back to the manager and returned to explain that they do not have the register to print the receipt that the sign requires me to have; viva Panama.