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OPINION: Justice in fragile hands

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Posted 03/05/2020

Access to justice is an inalienable human right. Even amid the critical conditions in the country, constitutional rights and guarantees are in full force. This has been shown by the Supreme Court of Justice, since habeas corpus and amparo de guarantees actions are still being processed by that highest court.

 Despite the fact that the SPA is working with biosecurity measures, ordinary justice has its terms suspended. The reasons are obvious: there can be no crowds in the courts, and there are no sanitary conditions to carry out proceedings or procedures for most of the paralegals.

A fundamental component of justice is the implementation of the judicial career, whose processes - contests, transfers, promotions, performance evaluations, update of the judicial scale - they have all been suspended. Although there may be justification for this measure, the delay in the contests continues to place justice in interim and, therefore, fragile hands. The Court should review this part of the suspension and incorporate digital mechanisms to advance, at least in part, the enormous pending task in the judicial career.  – LA PRENSA, May 3

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-justice-in-fragile-hands

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2 hours ago, Moderator_02 said:

 We must all keep in mind that to get ahead when we integrate into the new normal, Not only will international loan funds be needed. It will be just as important or more important to have robust and reliable leadership that can guide the country

MORE important than ever, that every dime that is loaned to this country find it's proper place that is NOT inside a pocket of a politician.   Corruption has drained this country......for a long long time. It is way beyond time for a change . Lets hope transparency is ONE good thing that can come out of this pandemic. 

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OPINION: Panama mafia families united

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Posted 07/07/2020

Yesterday dawned with the news of the kidnapping filed by a former president against this newspaper and ended with the arrest and publication of an accusation in the United States against the children of another.

 Behind both events hides a tangle of interests, alliances, and connecting vessels. Yesterday, the facts were ahead of us. Our journalists were snooping on the trail of a possible investigation of enormous proportions that, due to money laundering, was carried out abroad and whose facts are becoming known

Nothing is accidental. Now it is clear that the sudden and "voluntary" desire to return to Panama seen by some as some bravado of the other, as well as the alleged complicity of officials who, behind the scenes, play in favor of impunity. So many interconnected lines, so many questions that demand answers.

And this is  While the country mourns its dead and faces the very poor state of our health system defeated by corruption as the rogues move freely.

In order for journalists not to question altered flight permits, outdated bonds, rigged contracts, and judicial processes abroad, they want to silence the independent media. Searching for the truth and making it public is the mission of La Prensa, even if the mafia families come together to silence the common enemy. - LA PRENSA, Jul.7

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/opinion-panama-mafia-families-united

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MEDIAWATCH:  Abusing justice system with medical notes

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Posted 14/07/2020

The use of false medical certificates in legal proceedings is a crime that punishes doctors and lawyers for the serious damage caused to the impartiality and speed of justice reports La Prensa and  on Tuesday, July 14, Rodrigo Noriega outlined the flaws in the system.

In Panama, there are two procedural systems acting simultaneously. In both systems, excused absences backed by medical certificates are a concern of justice.

In neither system is there a limit to the number of medical certificates or the term covered by them. Let us remember Luis Cucalón's two years of hospitalization.

"Every time a hearing is not held, it causes a series of delays and a huge waste of time and resources," wrote Maribel Cornejo in the opinion pages of La Prensa on June 25, 2009. Cornejo is currently a magistrate. of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court.

According to what seems to be the dominant practice regarding the abuse of medical certificates in Ibero-America, it is the defense attorneys who present document to excuse their clients participation in the processes. This becomes part of the defense strategy.

The new Criminal Procedure Code provides in its article 105 the power of the judge to have the medical certificates submitted by the lawyers verified afterwards to absent themselves from the hearings.

What happens when a medical certificate is found to be false?  There are two types of possible falsity: that of an authentic document but with false content, and that of a totally falsified document.

These conducts are punishable in articles of the Penal Code, which establish penalties for both the doctors who issue the certificates and the lawyers who use them, even if it is for their clients.

Defense strategy.  The use of false medical certificates is a significant problem in Ibero-American judicial processes. It is considered as part of an unethical and procedurally unfair defense strategy.

The Supreme Court of Spain, in a 2014  ruling, disqualified the defense's tactics in a high-profile case, which would be very similar to those known in Panama.

For the Court, the abusive practices of the defense reached the level of “evident procedural fraud”.

That same year, the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice knocked the lower courts for allowing the abuse of dilatory measures and remedies. In Colombia, disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against lawyers due to evident delay in cases.

In Panama, there are no legal provisions on the subject of abusive defense strategies, but there is a mechanism to validate private medical certificates.

Dr. José Vicente Pachar, director of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences,  explained the Panamanian reality: “The Imelcf does not validate or examine the disabilities presented. It is up to the competent authority to request the expertise that it requires within its investigations. ”

In other words, prosecutors or judges, need to end the practice of fake medical certificates.

A prominent Panamanian criminal lawyer suggested that the justice system "should not accept private medical certificates" to avoid the abuse. It is enough that the Supreme Court and the Attorney General's Office send the message to end the era of abusive criminal defense strategies.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/media-watch/mediawatch-abusing-justice-system-with-medical-notes

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OPINION: When “influencers” reach the cookie jar

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Posted 30/08/2020

This era of technological change has created new trades, which were never considered in the structure of public administration. One of these cases is that of the so-called "influencers", whose role is relevant in the world of social networks.

The appointment of numerous local influencers on the State payroll causes sting, because there is no transparency about their functions, and the measurement of the impact of their work. The growth of the state payroll during the pandemic, which extends to entities such as the National Assembly, raises serious doubts about the use of the country's scarce public revenues.

 What essential and urgent role do the contractors fulfill? As has become known in recent weeks, due to the scandals of misbehavior of state servants, there are already many cases of appointments linked to deputies. The increase in staff in times of pandemic is an insult to Panamanians who face the uncertainty of suspended contracts, closed businesses, destroyed jobs and nonexistent clients – LA PRENSA, Aug.30

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-when-influencers-reach-the-cookie-jar

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Corruption and lack  of ethics survive pandemic

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Posted 17/09/2020

The corruption problems that existed in all spheres before the pandemic have survived because “they are viruses that eat away at the social fabric and have "impoverished a great majority, said Panama’s bishops at a Thursday, September 17  press conference, at the Cathedral Basilica Santa María la Antigua in San Felipe.

 The bishops said  also, in times of pandemic, there is still “concern” for an education that leaves the impoverished sectors more excluded, and  crisis exposed the collapse of the Panamanian health system, "but with a health staff with a commendable example, who fights Covid-19 until the death of some of its members."

"It is indisputable that those historically excluded from development are the most affected by this pandemic, and now a growing number of vulnerable families have joined by losing their jobs or means of subsistence," says a  statement read at the meeting. chaired by the Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa.

“To all the above we must add the rates of violence and crime in all its forms, the popular clamor against corruption and the lack of transparency in public management, the continuous demands for better living conditions: water, housing, health, education, decent and stable employment ”, says the statement.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/corruption-and-lack-of-ethics-survive-pandemic

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OPINION: The influence-peddling highway

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Posted 19/10/2020

In Panama, donations to political parties and candidates in an electoral campaign are a business, at least when it comes to large contributions. Those who want to profit from a new government must help it to gain power.

 Thus, your donations are the obligatory toll to gain access to the influence-peddling highway. How do you get your contribution back? Depending on the level of influence, a "donor" or "investor" can create bills in their favor or stop those that are adverse; access to the investment portfolio of the State to achieve works that are arranged to favor them; access to the highest spheres of power; appointments in the Public Ministry; the Supreme Court, including the Executive and the Legislative, in fiscal control entities, notaries, consulates and embassies. This level of influence is the worst kept secret in the country, but nobody does anything at all. The Electoral Tribunal, in this matter, is a stone guest, and the Legislative one seeks obscurantism. Thanks to our indifference, the darkest example of this disdain is Odebrecht: it has been muddying Panamanian democracy with its dirty money for years. We are becoming a really pathetic country.- LA PRENSA, Oct.19

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-the-influence-peddling-highway

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Accountability and transparency

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Posted 04/12/2020

Accountability and transparency. A good government would not fear these two words, but in this one, just hearing them produces a chain reaction that goes from the displeasure of officials and refusing to hand over public information, to smear campaigns on social networks. But as citizens, it is our right to demand explanations, and it is the duty of officials to give them, no matter how many hives they cause. For example, we citizens would like you to explain to us how the $100 million destined to alleviate the damage caused by the floods last November was spent. 

Nobody has taken the trouble to inform what has been the destination of this money. Giving us these explanations is accountability. 

And as for transparency, it is surprising that the Comptroller's Office, the call to ensure this issue, is part of the problem. Or is it that they believe that waiving prior inspection of state works in this pandemic is transparency? Giving up that task is missing your duties, no matter how much you want to legalize it. Demanding transparency and accountability every day is strenuous, but necessary, and it is our right to do so. LA PRENSA. Dec. 4.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/accountability-and-transparency

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The less than "honorable" lawmakers

Posted 19/12/2020

The work done by the members of the National Electoral Reform Commission –especially those who represent civil society– is invaluable in the effort to make the electoral process in Panama more transparent and to prevent, with legal devices, people seeking protection politicians manage to evade justice, as is the case of eliminating –for example– the electoral penal jurisdiction that some abuse, with the outdated and worn argument of “political persecution”. Now, for the first time, it was possible to obtain the necessary votes in this commission to eliminate said jurisdiction, an important achievement that, however, does not have the favorable vote of the parties of the governing coalition - which, in addition, controls the National Assembly - so it is easy to deduce what they will do with this reform, an unnecessary privilege, but they will want to keep anyway. And that is the way in which the effort of many months in the National Electoral Reform Commission is despised and ignored by politicians who only care to save their skin if justice calls them. If those in charge of approving these changes in the Assembly were people with strong moral values and commitments, there would be no problem. But we are all aware of the shortcomings of our "honorable" deputies. LA PRENSA,Dec.19

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/the-less-than-honorable-lawmakers

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A 'lack of diligence' report

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Eduardo Ulloa

Posted 06/01/2021

The attorney general of the Nation, Eduardo Ulloa, has rendered a management report that is rather the report of the lack of diligence in the position he occupies. He has come forward to give us excuses as to why there is still no prosecution in high-profile cases, which includes the most important corruption trial in the country's history, the Odebrecht case, a company that, he said, has not fulfilled - for two years - the penalty agreement that was imposed. It seems that this official can do nothing about it, when he is the one who has the upper hand. One year in office and everything is paralyzed.

And although the pandemic has contributed to this, the fact that he dismantled the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office is still another factor, as demanded by the accused, These wishes were soon crystallized by the complacent Mr. Ulloa, and who, in addition, appointed a close political collaborator of high-profile defendants as an assistant.

He has also had to account for those events and not only for the things he has not done. We hope your next management report will include some condemnations, because this has been a real disappointment. LA PRENSA, Jan. 1.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/a-amp039lack-of-diligence039-report-1

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Panama’s bottomless pit

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Posted 09/01/2021

The Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office has provided valuable information about Odebrecht. One of the most interesting things that the prosecutors revealed is the fact that the works of the companies have been investigated since they arrived in Panama. In other words, they have not limited themselves to inquiring about the disbursements made by Odebrecht's Structured Operations Sector (or the so-called Box 2), from where the company's dirty funds came. What is a pity is that some officials who do their best to investigate these acts of corruption have to deal with judges who should be outside the Judicial Branch, since they seem more enthusiastic about the idea of being able to bury these cases - so that impunity reigns - to get to the bottom, let the truth shine, whoever falls. The judicial system is our greatest shame - not even the corruption of politicians - because it is doubly corrupt who, knowing proven acts of corruption, protects the perpetrators with the cloak of impunity. We hope for a true renewal of this organ of the State, otherwise we will never get out of this bottomless pit in which we have been condemned to live. LA PRENSA, Jan. 9

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/panamas-bottomless-pit

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Panama’s kleptomaniac mayors

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Posted 13/01/2021

The latest news of the new mayor of the San Miguelito district is to have self-allocated thousands of dollars in mobilization expenses. It seems that the mayor, who runs the destinations of a district with numerous highly impoverished pockets and prisoners of common and organized crime - in the middle of the metropolitan area - needs to travel on commercial flights from one neighborhood to another to clear the green areas. That would be the only justification for such spending in a district of only 50 square kilometers. On top of the fact that his administration is that of a perfectly incompetent, now he has to be paid as if he were the mayor of New York. But Mr. Héctor Valdés Carrasquilla is not the only prodigious wonder. Like him, there are several other kleptomaniac mayors, taxpayers' money rustlers, who use the figure of travel expenses to raid the municipal treasury. But nothing happens here. They steal from us, and we: “Good! Thanks and you?". With this pandemic, which has impoverished the entire country, we have these parasites draining resources that could be used to save lives. But that money is surely to save their status and their parking lots. That's how unscrupulous these leeches are. – LA PRENSA, Jan 13.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/panamas-kleptomaniac-mayors

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Inhuman kleptocracy

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Posted 14/01/2021

The pandemic continues to show us in all its starkness the inequalities that reign in the country. And yet, the Government does not give any sign of a minimum of austerity; it rubs us in the face that those who hold a position in public service are part of an unattainable caste for the pandemic. Private companies, on the other hand, continue to carry on their shoulders the weight of feeding an insatiable bureaucracy, unable to renounce just one of its privileges, while thousands of Panamanians see their jobs lost and their income diminishes with the advance of the disease. The solidarity that the Government boasts so much is only a perverse illusion, a cruel lie that is exposed when wages are increased, when more and more partners are hired; when they waste handsomely to give money to friends; when the virus becomes a partner of the negotiated millions of the lofty. The pandemic will leave us a desolate economy, a dire employment situation and it has made us understand that we do not live in a democracy. We live under the regime of an inhumane kleptocracy that, in addition, has hijacked the State.- LA PRENSA, Jan 14

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/inhuman-kleptocracy-3

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OPINION - The Blameless Gentlemen

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Posted 17/01/2021

The Supreme Court of Justice should prepare a very detailed manual or guide for filing complaints or lawsuits against the immaculate fathers of the country, since the "suitable evidence" is the most difficult puzzle to put together in judicial matters, because, whatever The one that is presented for the magistrates to investigate the conduct of these blameless gentlemen, results in that it does not serve, none serves for that purpose. The consequence derived from this lack of adequate evidence always ends in impunity. Neither taking the bribery money nor the testimony of the victim (s) nor an audit by the Comptroller's Office, not even with a confession on the part, meet the requirements to be considered suitable evidence. So why don't they present a bill –because they have plenty of legislative initiative– that defines what it is, how it is presented, and what cannot be used as suitable evidence. Perhaps by the way we will understand, once and for all, that the deputies are beings emanated from the divinity, who are above the citizen, unattainable by the laws of man. And also like this, the victims of their disgraceful behaviors will not make them waste their precise time with useless and pointless complaints - LA PRENSA, Jan,17

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-the-blameless-gentlemen

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Corruption triumphs

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Posted 25/01/2021

Once again, we must deplore the shameful triumph of impunity due to belated justice. It took almost two and a half years for the Supreme Court of Justice to rule on protection of guarantees - a remedy, which according to our Constitution must be processed "through summary procedure" - that was filed by one of the persons investigated in the Odebrecht case. This is Juan Carlos Espinosa, former head of Foreign Policy at the Foreign Ministry, whose testimony would have been key to reaching an important Democratic Change politician, presumably Rómulo Roux. The Court concluded that Espinosa's constitutional rights were not violated, as he alleged in his appeal for amparo. But it turns out that now he cannot be charged, as the investigation period has been closed, with which he and Roux have been left out of the investigations of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office. A fair ruling, but wrong timing is not justice, it is equivalent to promoting impunity. Once again it has been shown that for the magistrates of the Supreme Court, the Law and the Constitution only serve to be violated. It is very simple, without the certainty of punishment, corruption triumphs - LA PRENSA, Jan. 25

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/corruption-triumphs

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Panama slides on corruption index

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Corruption beneath the shining towers

Posted 29/01/2021

Panama continues to slip  on the Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International .

The country obtained 35 points out of 100. In addition, it is ranked 111 out of 180 countries that were measured.

In the report, the higher the score, the less corrupt the country is. Meanwhile, the lower the position, the less corrupt the State is.

The data from the report shows that Panama has deteriorated compared to last year when it obtained a score of 36 and the position was 101 out of 180 countries.

Carlos Barsallo, president of the Foundation for the Development of Citizen Freedom, the Panamanian chapter of Transparency International, explained that the result shows "the worst score" that the country has received since 2013, and the worst position since 2012.

He said that it marks a regrettable downward trend since 2015, when it reached its best score with 39 and best position with 72 of 180.

This means that in the last six years Panama has dropped 39 positions and is among the 10 countries out of 180 in the world that have dropped 10 positions or more.

"Panama, with these results, moves away from the best in America, which are Canada, Chile and Uruguay ...", Barsallo said.

He said that with the results it should be clear that it is not a matter of the government of the day, since they are temporary actors.

"It is a problem that goes beyond governments, and it is not a curse that cannot be overcome, since others have succeeded," he said.

The Index ranks 180 countries based on expert assessments and entrepreneur surveys. Use a scale from 0 (high corruption) to 100 (no  corruption); This measured bribery, diversion of public funds, and use of public funds for personal gain.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/world/panama-slides-on-corruption-index

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CORRUPTION -Panama's pandemic

Posted 29/01/2021

Corruption is our pandemic. Two reports - independent of each other - have us on everyone's lips. Panama is, according to the Lowy Institute of Australia, one of the 10 countries in the world –of the 98 measured– that has managed the pandemic the worst.

But we are also in the group of 10 countries - out of 180 - that has dropped 10 or more positions in Transparency International's 2020 corruption perception index.

The Lowy Institute, a think tank that does a global survey, drew up the rankings, and we're literally at the bottom 92 out of 98 in handling the pandemic.  On corruption, we returned to the score of 2012 and 2013, when Ricardo Martinelli reigned.And since 2015, when the country obtained its best score, the index has moved downward, losing 39 points in recent years, which shows us that Panama suffers from a disease with no apparent cure.

Now, under a PRD government, we keep going backward. For this reason, it is pertinent to remind the country's first worker of his first great promise: "As of July 1, 2019 - government and society - we will carry out the task of rescuing Panama, after a decade characterized by corruption and incapacity." When will we start, President?  -  LA PRENSA, Jan. 29.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/corruption-panama039s-pandemic-1

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Business Chamber blasts government fat cats

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Posted 31/01/2021

The serious ecnomic crisis that Panama is undergoing is the result of the forced closure of companies and the establishment of restrictive measures of freedom with serious consequences when the State does not have checks or balances, much less harmonious collaboration to manage the economy in an orderly manner said  Panama’s Chamber of Commerce (CCIAP) ,on   Sunday.

It added that The silence of the Supreme Court in resolving the protections of guarantees presented with respect to civil rights in the state of emergency has struck "a certain blow to the rule of law and left an entire country defenseless." .

For the organization,   ” the classification of “essential” and “non-essential” activities “unacceptable because, in private companies, every collaborator is essential.

“Having already, for months, a firm understanding of the sanitary measures necessary to prevent the spread of the virus (masks, face shields, distancing, hand washing, etc. members of the private sector are prevented from supporting their families and paying salaries to their collaborators for more than 10 months when they develop it responsibly and implement all the necessary sanitary measures, " while the administration shelters behind the comfort and safety of state salaries’

According to the CCIAP, in the crisis, the public sector “is far from being in the same boat” as the private sector. Therefore, it is imperative and urgent to reduce public spending according to income, especially the reduction in working hours for officials who are not in the first line of defense against Covid-19, which would generate savings to grant support for the thousands of suspended employees and companies affected by the closure of activities.

“Acquiring debt to pay for operations without a cost control plan is equivalent to mortgaging the future of the next generations. The State must also be supportive ”, assured the organization.

Finally, the CCIAP stated that "Panama and its people cannot endure one more closure, each closed day increases the deterioration of the country's economy and decreases the ability to feed our families." "We have the right to mobilize to be able to go to our jobs and open our companies with the duty to follow biosecurity measures," the letter added.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/business-chamber-blasts-government-fat-cats-1

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The path to national bankruptcy

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La Prensa's take on the political scene

Posted 01/02/2021

Following the example of the Central Government, the local governments of not a few municipalities seem to have gone mad. In Arraiján, mobilization expenses of half a million dollars were allocated; the mayor of San Miguelito allocated thousands of dollars a month to himself for the same expenses; in Colón, the mayor intended to disburse $ 600 thousand in colored lights "for the summer", an act suspended by the General Directorate of Public Procurement, which asked him to reconsider spending, both due to the high consumption of electricity and the pandemic. These people do not understand the scope of what is happening to the economy, devastated by Covid-19. Governments are - to a large extent - responsible for our hardships and, far from renouncing their flawed governance practices, they want to keep them to guarantee themselves the power they need to get rich. For this reason, it is reprehensible - once again - that in the dialogue of the Social Security Fund, the Government controls - with the number of representatives - the decisions that are taken. Precisely, it has been the rulers who have led the institution to its virtual bankruptcy. When will they stop? LA PRENSA, Feb.1.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/the-path-to-national-bankruptcy-1

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OPINION – The absurdity of Government  privilege

Posted 21/02/2021

In Panama, the absurd enjoys the privilege of government attention, and not the priority in purchases, in decisions, behaviors, and even in planning. It is difficult to imagine it, but it is our reality. This is the case of the purchase of the cold chain for a vaccine purchased by the Government to immunize the inhabitants against Covid-19. First, a tender was called that had to be decided at the end of last year, and not now partially. Later, we learn that no delivery of the parts of this cold chain can be made before 80 days, with which the refrigerators and the rest of the equipment will arrive in May… hopefully. To this must be added the installation time of such a capacity, which far exceeds the needs required to store the aforementioned vaccine, which - as we have seen - is arriving in small quantities every week. And, to top it all off, suspicions and suspicions, as the Government made the purchasing conditions more flexible, benefiting a consortium that is the winner of the main items, but whose latest imports have been for playgrounds, no refrigeration equipment and less so sophisticated. Where is the consistency of these purchases? – LA PRENSA, Feb. 21

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-the-absurdity-of-government-privilege

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