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Confessed bribery companies able to bid for public contracts

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Confessed  bribery companies able to bid for public contracts


Posted 11/09/2019

Companies like Odebrecht or those in the Blue Apple bribery scandal who have reached a deal with prosecutors will be able to bid for public contracts following approval of the  National Assembly on Tuesday of a Bill that creates a regime of public-private partnerships (PPP).

The text had already been approved in the second debate on September 4, but on  Monday, after opening the third and final debate - in which modifications can no longer be made - it was returened again to the second debate, due to differences over two articles.

One of them is Article 10, which determines the composition of the governing body of PPPs, the highest decision-making body on the projects that will be initiated.

There will not be a seat at the table for a representative of the National Assembly in the governing body, something that had been proposed by PRD  Deputy)  Benicio Robinson and approved in second debate last week.

Some jurists had indicated that the participation of a deputy in the governing body could imply an interference of the Legislative Body in another state power, which would clash with article 163 of the Political Constitution  reports La Prensa

The governing body will be composed of five ministers, with the Minister of the Presidency at the head, and the Comptroller General, who will only have the right to speak.

Other differences arose, over the disqualification of companies and individuals to participate in PPP projects.

A proposal signed by 18 deputies, including those of the independent bank, argued that a company should unable to contract with the State has reached a collaboration agreement for the commission of crimes against public administration, money laundering and against economic assets.

The PRD approved a wording in which companies that have reached agreements of collaboration with justice are not disabled, but the grounds already established in Law 22 of 2006 (of public contracts) are included, for example, the fact of having been convicted by a final ruling by a Panamanian court.

According to Law 22, companies that are delinquent in paying a fine imposed for breach of a contract cannot either contract with the State. In the text approved yesterday, companies that are delinquent in paying a fine for a penalty imposed were included.

According to PRD Deputy  Zulay Rodríguez,, this would mean that Odebrecht, a company that reached a collaboration agreement with the Panamanian justice and which imposed a fine of $220 million, could not participate in PPP contracts until it pays the entire amount of the penalty.

However, the agreement between Odebrecht and the Public Ministry establishes that the payment of the sanction would be made over a period of 12 years, and technically the company would only fall into default if it fails to comply with any of the partial payments according to the calendar agreed with the Public Ministry.



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