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This topic appears to be directly related to and a rapid reaction to the recent government purchases at bloated prices that led to the quick resignation of Vice Minister Juan Carlos Muñoz. Click Here to see the other referenced topic.

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COVID-19 exposes “he stole but he did” mantra

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A memorial to an era of greed and corruption

Posted 21/04/2020

Although the health outlook is beginning to look positive, the race for economic recovery will be a long marathon. The State is restricted in what it can provide to the population, during and after the crisis. Now, better than ever, the very serious damage that corruption, with state resources, has caused to the entire country is evident. The “turnkey” with surcharges, the bids arranged, the bribes of Odebrecht and Blue Apple and the ineffectiveness of the justice system in punishing the perpetrators of these embezzlements of the last decade left us indebted and with a very financial capacity to respond. limited. If instead of a decade of exaggerated indebtedness had been saved, the country would have a scenario similar to that of the Scandinavian nations, that they have been able to cover most of the wages of private-sector workers, keeping alive a vigorous sector of SMEs. Our panorama is different and will require a lot of sacrifices to get ahead. "He stole but he did", has become the death and poverty of Panamanians .- LA PRENSA, Apr  21

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/covid-19-exposes-he-stole-but-he-did-mantra

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I was hoping the new diputado, being from Boquete, would have jumped on this.  Unfortunately not, it seems.  Heck, even Dolega has better facilities for health care

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Opinion here -- corruption is in all governments, but it seems to me Latin cultures have an extra dose or two of it. And it is accepted as just part of the way things work. And the court systems are corrupt also. Just look at Martinelli.

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Crisis y corrupción, el otro virus que puede infectar

La ciudadanía reclama más transparencia en las compras de emergencia. Se pide rendición de cuentas.
 
Eliana Morales Gil
23 abr 2020 - 12:00 AM

https://www.prensa.com/impresa/panorama/crisis-y-corrupcion-el-otro-virus-que-puede-infectar/

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OPINION; Populism fed by poor education

Posted 22/04/2020

OPINION; Populism fed by  poor education

A ghost runs through the world: the specter of populism. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked the worst instincts of demagogues in the north and south, xenophobes in the east and west, and, of course, manipulators in our yard Deputies from all sides encourage the class struggle and popular resentment, blaming the greed of companies for the condition in which a part of Panamanians lives. The people are trying to cheat with magical moratoriums, turned into free money, that solves everything. Of course, there are bad entrepreneurs who have looted the country, however, this does not explain everything. History and economy tell us something else. The legacy of a mediocre education, together with administrative centralism and an economy excessively concentrated in international services, they have generated a lot of inequality and exclusion.

 Panama would not be better without the banks, airlines or multinationals that have invested here. What will make us better, more prosperous, and with much less inequality is a good education, a lot of work, and an honest government. That truth is kept silent by populists. - LA PRENSA, Apl 22

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-populism-fed-by-poor-education

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to During Pandemic Crisis, Corruption Is The Other Virus That Can Infect and Destroy

NIX the beach project .... that white sand beach project there in PC is a joke.   

Open general government procurement to the public eye ..... across the board transparency.  

Come to the conclusion: Hospitals, jails, schools (no text books! Consider that), juvenile detention and rehab. facilities sorely lack

Provide incentives for the youth that are growing up wild in Panama City to learn a skill in order to support a family rather than their drug habit. Recreation / learning / tech school Centers. 

Imagine how the money that has been squirreled away by the corrupt in charge might had been better spent to improved this country. !! Pure theft 

Youngsters entering Medical school here could not pass the admission tests. College grads. Sooo the action taken? ... eliminate the entry exam. 

wow .... phew! ......... and not much changes. That's what blows everybody away.

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El contrato que busca afianzar la imagen del gobierno: $1.7 millones

Un contrato de lenguaje amplio y general esconde planes estratégicos que buscan –en medio de la pandemia– promover la imagen gubernamental.
 
Rolando Rodríguez B.
27 abr 2020 - 10:19 PM

https://www.prensa.com/impresa/panorama/el-contrato-que-busca-afianzar-la-imagen-del-gobierno-1-7-millones/

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Cortizo Administration Bringing in Coonsulting Services to Bolster The Image and Perception of the Government
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Hoy por hoy

Nunca más que ahora hemos necesitado creer que el gobierno está trabajando en favor de nuestros intereses y que cada centavo que se gasta del tesoro público se hace de forma correcta. No cabe la menor duda de que miembros de este gobierno han estado patrocinando contrataciones irregulares. Aunque se han iniciado investigaciones sobre algunas de estas transacciones y ciertos funcionarios públicos han renunciado, el país está indignado. Los panameños estamos a punto de perder toda la confianza en el gobierno de Laurentino Cortizo, no por el manejo de los asuntos sanitarios, sino por el rosario de compras cuestionables y adquisiciones opacas que han aprovechado la pandemia para hacer su cosecha. Ningún tema ha sido sagrado para esta camarilla de influyentes. El recurso más importante que tiene un gobierno es su credibilidad. La confianza de los ciudadanos en la legitimidad y la buena fe de los administradores del Estado es fundamental. El Presidente tiene que actuar decisivamente contra la corrupción, especialmente contra su círculo cercano, o la nación perderá el respeto por su gobierno. Esto sería peor que la pandemia.

 

Moderator comment: Below is an unedited automated translation of the above news commentary.

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Day by day

Apr 28, 2020 - 12:00 AM

Never more than now have we needed to believe that the government is working for our interests and that every penny spent from the public treasury is done correctly. There is no doubt that members of this government have been sponsoring irregular hires. Although investigations into some of these transactions have been launched and certain public officials have resigned, the country is outraged. Panamanians are about to lose all confidence in the Laurentino Cortizo government, not because of managing health issues, but because of the string of questionable purchases and opaque acquisitions that have taken advantage of the pandemic to make their harvest. No subject has been sacred to this clique of influencers. The most important resource a government has is its credibility. Citizens' trust in the legitimacy and good faith of state administrators is essential. The President has to act decisively against corruption, especially against his close circle, or the nation will lose respect for its government. This would be worse than the pandemic.

https://www.prensa.com/impresa/hoy-por-hoy/hoy-por-hoy-166/

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Tal Cual

https://www.prensa.com/impresa/panorama/tal-cual-87/

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Cortizo Administration Bringing in Consulting Services to Bolster The Image, The Branding, and The Perception of the Government
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Moment of Truth for President Cortizo

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A behind the scenes peek by La Prensa cartoonist Low

Posted 27/04/2020

The coronavirus pandemic will result in a high cost, not only health, but economic. The Government has asked for billions to face the situation and it will be very difficult for us to honor the large debts that we have contracted as a country.

 For this reason, the waste of money that citizens and the media have denounced is unacceptable and that, for this reason alone - many of them clearly unnecessary or with gross cost overruns - have been suspended or eliminated. Mr President Laurentino Cortizo: if you want to be consistent with your zero tolerance for corruption speech, you have to do more than reprimand in private. As these officials remain in office, their credibility will be eroded at a time when the country needs leadership that does not respond to political or private interests. But, unfortunately, what you do with your hands, your closest collaborators have no problem stomping on it. This is the moment of truth: either keep your promises or you will go down the long list of rulers with no more glory than a sad legacy of corruption. - LA PRENSA, Apr.27

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/moment-of-truth-for-president-cortizo

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Plum direct contract to polish “austerity” presidency image

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President Cortizo and VP Carrizo

Posted 28/04/2020

As Panama faces a major blow to the economy brought on by the COVID-19 crisis   the government which before the pandemic had promised  a belt-tightening year has handed out a $1,7 direct to polish the Presidency image. image.

  The contract managed by the vice president  José Gabriel Carrizo is based on a “well-founded technical report” that justifies the hiring and speaks of knowing the needs of Panamanians around the coronavirus, and “government branding”  make it clear that it is “the strategic planning of the image of the head of government as the first engine that moves the country, aligned to the central plan of 'Uniting Forces', which constitutes the genesis or structural base on which the image of the government is built ” and other polished marketing doublespeak.

Although it was managed in the midst of the pandemic, reports La Prensa, this is a marginal issue in direct hiring. In fact, the technical report indicates that systematic market research studies will be carried out, such as qualitative ones, which involve "in-depth interviews and group sessions between interest groups to delve into feelings and attitudes with certain topics ...".

Vice President of the Republic, José Gabriel Gaby Carrizo, managed the direct hiring of the company Mercadeo Integral for an amount of almost $1,750,000, for the provision of advertising services of branding marketing and communication for the Ministry of the Presidency.

Despite the fact that the pandemic would be the justification for this direct contracting, the words pandemic, coronavirus or Covid-19 are not mentioned even once in the draft contract to La Prensa had access, although there are some paragraphs in which the "current situation" is mentioned. However, the documents that justify the contract do mention the referred concepts, although the scope of the contract is much more ambitious.

In the documents that preceded the hiring, there are no indications that other proposals have been sought. On the contrary, only that of the Integral Marketing company was considered –and approved–. It’s proposal was addressed to the Vice President on March 15, 2020, two days after the declaration of the State of National Emergency.

In addition to detailing its services, Comprehensive Marketing included in its letter to Carrizo the period by which it would offer them - from March 15 to August 15, 2020 - as well as the price - $ 1.75 million -, a price that was accepted without objection by the Presidency  Communications Secretary, Óscar Ramos, nor of the former Deputy Minister of the Presidency Juan Carlos Muñoz who resigned on Monday, Apr.27 over the hospital ventilator pricing scandal..

In a "well-founded technical report", presented by Ramos and Muñoz the day after Integral Marketing offered its services, these officials stated that this company is recognized and that it has experience in the local and international market.

They added that the company "enjoys our confidence to carry out this activity when required; and, it also fulfills the requirements of responsibility, security, and discretion demanded by the Ministry of the Presidency for the provision of the type of service that is to be contracted, which includes direct interaction with the President of the Republic, and the Vice President and Minister of the Presidency ”.

The selection of the company was also supported by its immediate availability for the development, study and presentation of strategic communication plans, and by its credit facilities since it has adequate financial solvency.

With "the product of this information, directional objectives, specific objectives, identification of opportunities, determination of objectives and marketing and communication strategies for the image of the government are established," the report indicates.

And so that there is no doubt that the pandemic was a marginal issue in this direct hiring, the report indicates that systematic market research studies will be carried out, such as qualitative ones, which involve “in-depth interviews and group sessions between interest groups to deepen feelings and attitudes with certain topics, whether daily, those that result from government branding plans or emerging ones, such as the coronavirus case ”.

Something very different from what was stated in this same "founded technical report", which justified the hiring in the development of management focused on the priorities of the citizens, especially in terms of development, needs and problems generated around the Covid-19; strengthen the institution in attention to human and material resources, in order to present the best campaigns to sensitize and engage all citizens; and use tools that ensure the effectiveness of communication processes through advertising.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/plum-direct-contract-to-polish-austerity-presidency-image

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OPINION: The threat of insider corruption

Posted 28/04/2020

Never more than now have we needed to believe that the government is working for our interests and that every penny spent from the public treasury is done correctly. There is no doubt that members of this government have been sponsoring irregular hires.

Although investigations into some of these transactions have been launched and certain public officials have resigned, the country is outraged. Panamanians are about to lose all confidence in the Laurentino Cortizo government, not because of managing health issues, but because of the string of questionable purchases and opaque acquisitions that have taken advantage of the pandemic to make their harvest. No subject has been sacred to this clique of influencers. The most important resource a government has is its credibility. Citizens' trust in the legitimacy and good faith of state administrators is essential. The President has to act decisively against corruption, especially against his close circle, or the nation will lose respect for its government. This would be worse than the pandemic – LA PRENSA, Apr,28

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-the-threat-of-insider-corruption-1

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Vice President backs insider sweetheart deal

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Carlos Guillermo De Ycaza,

Posted 29/04/2020

Carlos Guillermo De Ycaza, a director of the state-controlled National Bank has garnered  $2.6 million direct-purchase accounts for his marketing company from the presidency.

De Ycaza's company –Marketing Integral– was favored in  March with a $1.7 million direct contract granted by the Vice President and Minister of the Presidency, José Gabriel Gaby Carrizo.

Last August, he got another direct contract of more than $ 900,000 reports La Prensa. The paper tried to interview De Ycaza about what appears to be a conflict of interest but replied that he would not comment with any media on the subject

Last August De Ycaza Córdoba received unanimous support from the National Assembly when he was ratified to occupy a seat on the board of directors of the National Bank of Panama.

The publicist no sooner went from being a mere mortal to being a director of the National Bank, than he began to do business at the Ministry of the Presidency says  La Prensa.

His involvement in direct hiring dates back to August 2019, the month he was anointed for the bank position. But then he had to deal, with former Vice Minister of the Presidency, Juan Antonio Ducruet.

At that time, the Presidency was already managing a package of four contracts - with different companies - in the areas of advertising, branding, marketing, and communication, for a combined amount of $2.8 million.

Ducruet dumped one of the companies for reasons that were not explained.

But De Ycaza Córdoba's company remained in the package, and the Ministry awarded him a contract that was valid from August to December 2019for  $908,000, to provide "strategic branding, marketing and communication services", very similar to those obtained this year, for four months - and in the midst of the pandemic due to the new coronavirus - for an amount greater than  $1.7 million.

In other words, the company got two contracts without competition, totaling $ 2.6 million from the Ministry of the Presidency.

The second contract - signed by Vice President Gaby Carrizo came in March, two days after the coronavirus State of National Emergency was decreed.

To justify the hiring and without price competition, the ministry used the pandemic as an excuse, although, in reality, the health situation was only a marginal issue in the company's marketing studies, according to documents revealed by the Ministry itself.

There are at least seven companies, almost all are family-based, in which not only the vice president's family members but the official himself appear. 

, in the company Pes, SA, Carrizo appears alongside Raúl Cortizo –brother of the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo– as the agent of the company. says La Prensa.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/vice-president-backs-insider-sweetheart-deal

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Fake news with political aims

Posted 30/04/2020

In recent weeks, purchases have been reported from State entities with obvious price premiums to the detriment of the credibility of the Government. We applaud the corrections and layoffs that have occurred. However, the largest purchases with surcharges originate from the Ministry of the Presidency and this directly spills over to the President and his team, whom the population holds responsible for the excesses and provokes street protests.

To regain credibility, the President must make difficult, but necessary, decisions, because otherwise, the situation may get out of control, with uncertain consequences, but easy to imagine. President, this conjuncture merits immediate and accurate actions, as those of the past were carried out; send a message to the rest of your government and the country. An official cannot be his priority in the face of this serious state crisis. This, in addition, gives rise to cowardly political actors - famous for throwing the stone and hiding their hands - take advantage of the networks to spread uncertainty and chaos, with false news and campaigns, taking advantage of the critical moment to discredit him, since his only and petty interest is to return to power in 2024. – LA PRENSA, Apr 30

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/fake-news-with-political-aims

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Changing tides around  presidency

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Sharing the hotseat Cortizo and Carrizo

Posted 04/05/2020

President Laurentino Nito Cortizo not only faces the challenge of flattening the coronavirus contagion curve but also needs a vaccine against the threat of corruption in government purchases under the pandemic umbrella. 

The corruption claims curve peaked last week over disputed contracts to purchase medical supplies reports La Prensa .

The event raised tensions in the Presidential Palace , and put Vice President and Minister of the Presidency, José Gabriel Carrizo , at the center of a public   outcry.

 On Sunday  night, in the capital  thousands of people  banged pots to demand Carrizo's resignation.

Peak weeks
The virus has not only tested the capacity of the health system, but also the ability of the Executive to politically overcome a crisis.

The resignation of the official who managed purchases for the pandemic, linked  directly  to Carrizo the pressure of the from deputies for the sanction of a general law of moratorium, keeping   the minister who leads the team that fights against the crisis remains in her  post, evidences a harassed Executive.

To this must be added the questions of the main leaders of the political parties and the persistence of those who request a gradual economic reopening in the face of the rapid deterioration of the social situation. And in the midst of everything, the drastic  40% fall  in  government income due to the pandemic.

Tensions
Governing in times of coronavirus requires political grappling at the highest level. Laurentino Cortizo, a  67-year-old man who returned to put the Democratic Revolutionary Party in the presidency after 10 years in political "winter", faces the challenge of flattening the contagion curve, and eradicating any threat of corruption that can be created with emergency purchases.

The claims curve peaked due to the noise made over questioned contracts to acquire medical supplies. One of them, the purchase of fans with a  massive surcharge caused the departure of the hitherto unknown Juan Carlos Muñoz , vice minister of the Presidency. The  sights then  ,moved to   the man managing the funds of the pandemic: Vice President Carrizo.

With Muñoz out a movement was created that the executive's political strategists did not anticipate . Citizens began to ask for Carrizo's resignation

Voices within the PRD like  that of former President Ernesto Pérez Balladares , argued  that requesting the departure of a vice president is "unconstitutional" and would be a "coup."

But some, like political analyst Edwin Cabrera, published on their social networks photos of presidents of the Republic who had removed vice-presidents.  

As tensions increased in the center of power, the streets erupted. Closings, and protests on the Interamericana, Colón, Chiriquí, San Miguelito, and the capital. They claimed the bags and bonds of the Panama Solidarity plan. In the National Assembly, PRD deputies  called for for the sanction of laws that imply general moratoriums; and some like Zulay Rodríguez and Crispiano Adames branded the new vice-minister of the Presidency Carlos Cayito García as "malicious", "corrupt" and a "figurehead".

Gone was the scenario  in which the government's decisions were applauded: from the sanitary measures, to the presidential speeches in which Cortizo compared the battle against the virus with a war that had to be won .

The criticisms and questions had been quarantined and Cortizo faces a new peak.

José Isabel Blandón , president of the opposition Panameñista Party, said  “The  kind of consensus that existed at the beginning of the crisis has disappeared, first, due to the delay in the delivery of social aid, and second because of the scandals of corruption, ”.

Blandón said on  TVN , that Cortizo should call a dialogue with all sectors to rethink the future of the country. "We cannot pretend to solve an unprecedented crisis, with the same things as before, for me to deliver bags from house to house is to apply a formula of the last century for a crisis of the present century,"  

Charged  atmosphere
The atmosphere  in the oresidency is now more charged. Even than at the beginning of the pandemic, political sources told La Prensa.

Last minute meetings, changes in strategy, scolding, complaints, pressures. With uncertainty on his back, the President has narrowed his  inner circle. To face the f the crisis, he mainly consults two women: the first is Minister of Health, Rosario Turner , a pediatrician who was experienced in crisis management over  massive due to diethylene glycol poisoning in the PRD government of Martín Torrijos (2004-2009).

The other person he listens to is his top advisor: his wife Yazmín Colón de Cortizo, the only one who, according to sources in the Executive branch, dares to speak to his face

On Saturday, April 2, a day after Cortizo announced that 233,657 people will receive the digital voucher, it was rumored that Turner had resigned.  the State Communication Secretariat reported that Turner remained leading the team of professionals that has faced the coronavirus crisis "As she has done since the National Emergency was declared.”  said a release’ 

But,  says La Prensa, The crux is in transparency and managing the millions authorized for the pandemic. People want to know all the details of the contract for the modular hospital, for example, or how many of the millions that have been authorized for the emergency have been spent.

“I have not been able to find a detailed account of all the donations that are being received in relation to Panama Solidario. The same applies to the Panama Solidario program, ”said Olga De Obaldía, executive director of the Foundation for the Development of Citizen Freedom. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we suggested that the government create a website where you can see all the information on the use  of the money earmarked for the emergency, including purchases.”

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/changing-tides-around-presidency

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Pot bangers break curfew silence demanding VP resignation

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Breaking the silence

Posted 04/05/2020

The evening silence in a city under lockdown was broken at 7 pm, on Sunday, May 3 as thousands of residents across Panama went to their windows to bang pots and pans, to demand the resignation of the Vice President and Minister of the Presidency, José Gabriel Carrizo.

The cacophony was were heard loudly from buildings and residences of San Francisco, Betania, Bella Vista, Pueblo Nuevo, Parque Lefevre, Río Abajo, Juan Díaz and San Miguelito.

The protest was called by social network users, who are confined to their homes due to the pandemic due to the new coronavirus.

They demand transparency in government purchases for health issues, as well as in the good use of public funds, and they call an investigation of the multi-million purchase of hospital ventilators and other items to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 27, President, Laurentino Cortizo, accepted the resignation of  Vice Minister of the Presidency Juan Carlos Muñoz, who earlier had struggled to explain why they were going to buy 100 fans at a six or seven times the going price.

The scandal erupted  after the digital medium Foco announced that the unit price of the purchase was $48,950 when in the market they could  be purchased at $6,900.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/pot-bangers-break-curfew-silence-demanding-vp-resignation

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OPINION: Easing quarantine without corruption

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Posted 04/05/2020

UNTIL NOW, and having as a reference to the behavior of the new coronavirus in the rest of the world, Panama has done quite well. Measures have been taken in time, and in many cases in advance, to mitigate the advance of the pandemic. No country was prepared, much less Panama.

 However, a scientific team took over the disease, with relative success, while the political team has had serious deficiencies, including, with the smell of corruption, in measures to mitigate the economic impact that the health crisis has left so far. It is obvious that it is time to start executing those measures that an economic committee has recommended overcoming the consequences.

 But it is also the time to do it based on scientific criteria, without attending to individual interests, political or otherwise trying to influence or pressure those who must make those decisions. The moment is critical: to open or not to open. Hopefully, our politicians will make the best decisions, or else what they have done so far could well be irretrievably lost. We already have enough with the lack of criteria in handling the political issue at times like this – LA PRENSA, May, 4

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-easing-quarantine-without-corruption

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to Insider Corruption Is The Other Virus That Can Infect and Destroy, and the Cortizo Administration Legacy
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OPINION: Tarnished revolving door appointment

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Presidenyial palace

Posted 06/05/2020

The new vice minister of the Presidency was presented as a dedicated public servant who would bring more transparency to the questioned office. The third vice-ministerial occupant, in less than a year, is an old acquaintance of the ruling party and in his recent past had very close ties to a member of circle zero of a controversial previous government. In an interview conducted by this newspaper, the official confessed not remembering that he signed the bank account of a company that was subsequently investigated by the Comptroller General of the Republic while he was its general secretary.

The obvious conflict of interest did not seem an ethical problem to the current vice-minister. Maybe, a journalistic investigation carried out with the great limitations existing at present could only reach a part of the official's professional past. However, those who made his new position possible must understand that the country is not for conflicts of interest or opaque actions of the State. Transparency is tarnished when custodians have a questionable ethical record and take their obligations lightly -LA  PRENSA, May 6

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-tarnished-revolving-door-appointment

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Spending spotlight moves to modular hospital

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Posted 07/05/2020

Panama’s $10.9  million  modular hospital,  is the  latest project related to expenditures  to fight the coronavirus  threat to come under scrutiny

Originally conceived to serve the most critical patients of the Covid-19, will now  admit  other patients with less severe symptoms  to free up beds  in  medical centers and hospitals where there are virus, so cases that they can attend to patients with other ailments.

Public Works Minister  Rafael Sabonge , who was in charge of the project, which cost $ 6.9 million construction and $ 4 million for medical equipment) has already been completed, but is not yet operating.

The vice minister of Health, Luis Sucre, said on  that the protocol for the transfer of the work to the Ministry of Health has already started and with this last step it can begin to function.

Aurora Vernaza, who started work last week, was named director .

The work was completed in less than 30 days. But it has been at the center of Adebate, because citizens demand to know how the contract with the chosen company was agreed, and the costs, among other things reports La Prensa.

Rafael Sabonge, Minister of Public Works and the face of Laurentino Cortizo's cabinet with which he is associated with the project, talks about this construction, which, he explains, would normally have taken 18 months to complete.

Why was the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) in charge of the work and not the Ministry of Health (Minsa)? It is one of the frequently asked questions.

Sabonge explains that in March, when the emergency was decreed, the Minsa, portfolio in charge of Rosario Turner, was fully involved in the health crisis and, a few days after the first case was identified March 9), the MOP started doing the work. They were uncertain days and, , they believed that they would have triple the cases that the country has today.

The medical center, which Cortizo named the Hospital Integrado Panamá Solidario, was made with the parameters of a special emergency procedure, which gives the government freedom to maneuver in times of crisis shortening processes. Sabonge says that despite the fact that this modality allowed them to choose a single company without having to look for more quotes, they studied the offer of three who had experience in the area: Va Project Hopsa ($9.9 million), Turmaks ($18 million), and SmartBrix ($ 69 million), who got the contract. "We told them: we have no design, you have to propose the design to us. What we need is this number of beds (80 for semi-intensive care, 20 for intensive care), and obviously they have to comply with the standards of the Ministry of Health ”. According to the papers published in Panamá Compra, SmartBrix was the only company that said it could complete the work in 30 days, as the others had longer manufacturing and delivery times.

Construction included the modular structure, lighting, conditioning, electrical system, bathroom equipment, and fire detection systems. The medical costs was not considered, because according to the minister, the MOP is not empowered to do so. In principle, it was the Ministry of the Presidency, headed by the Vice President of the Republic, José Gabriel Carrizo, who was in charge of managing that purchase with the support of a technical team, but now everything has passed into the hands of the Minsa. Sabonge handed over the keys to the hospital to President Cortizo on April 16.

How much does it cost to equip the modular hospital? The minister says he does not know the exact figure, but it was originally estimated at $4 million. “There is a very large price variability. When we started to build this, there was uncertainty and variability in the prices of medical equipment, ”he says.

The medical center is on the grounds of Albrook Mall, the shopping center that houses the country's transportation terminal. The official says that the first thing they did was find a central location, and not far from the hospital complex of the Social Security Fund, and Albrook Mall, fit those specifications.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/spending-spotlight-moves-to-modular-hospital

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Predators roam in a country on its knees

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Question raised over the final cost og modular hospital

Posted 15/05/2020

The recently built modular hospital is a great achievement in the midst of the pandemic that has put the country on its knees for more than two months. However, experience has shown that society must be vigilant of government purchases, even those aimed at confronting the new virus, as we have discovered that even under these pressing circumstances, some politicians do not give up their businesses. This new hospital, in the opinion of businessmen in the field, seems to be overpriced and it would be healthy if, for the sake of transparency, an audit were carried out, since the evidence found is no small matter. Although the country was not prepared to face a health, economic and social crisis of this magnitude, the authorities now, more than ever, must make our resources be invested at the lowest possible cost without sacrificing quality. Unfortunately, it is not what we are witnessing.-LA PRENSA, May 15.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/predators-roam-in-a-country-on-its-knees

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Panama rejected China hospital center donation

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$120,000 per bed for fastrack hosital.

Posted 16/05/2020

The  Panama government rejected an  offer   from  a  Chinese company  to  temporarily convert the Amador Convention Center into a modular hospital with more than 1,500 beds and instead preferred to build a $12 million 100-bed hospital (including medical equipment)  with the contract going to companies  with links to  the government and pay for hundreds of  “ hospital hotel beds”

 The gift offer  from theChina Construction America (CCA) came a few days after the first case of coronavirus in Panama was reported, at the beginning of  March. The company would use a technical model provided by its parent company,., with proven experience in building modular hospitals in China.

The contract went to  SmartBrix Central America says a lengthy La Prensa investigation revealing a web of “friends and relatives linked to the bids.

 Sabotage called this and two other companies on March 14 to present their offer. Four days later, President Laurentino Cortizo announced that the hospital would be built. It has not yet been opened for patients.

The  China donation was offered in  March, a few days after the first case of Covid-19 in Panama was announced. It was made by China Construction America (CCA), a subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corp. (CSCEC), the company that built  the new Amador Convention Center.

CSCEC is the same company that a month before had built - in just ten days - two modular 1,000-bed hospitals in Wuhan (China), the epicenter of the pandemic, the cost of which, according to reports from the website ENR (Engineering News-Record ), was $43 million or $43,000 per bed.

The structural adaptation work in the convention center would be donated by CCA to install 1,584 beds in three phases, as required.

"We make our experience, knowledge and human capabilities available to be applied in the temporary transformation of the convention center," highlights the proposal, to which La Prensa had access.

But the government rejected the proposal and instead decided to build its own modular hospital, also in record time: 30 days. The cost per bed in the Panamanian hospital will be a minimum of $120,000, or $ $77,000 (more than each bed in Wuhan modular hospitals reports  La Prensa.

The proposal to modify the convention center would have arrived verbally on March 13 and eleven days later - on March 24 - delivered to the Public Works minister Rafael Sabonge, a 50-page document - - detailing how the convention center.adaptation would be made.

While the technical proposal for the adaptation of the Chinese company was coming, Sabonge was advancing the tender for the modular hospital, and the quotes of the companies that he had invited begun to arrive: VA Project International, TKL Import & Export and SmartBrix Central America.

VA Project, chaired by Jaime Ventura Cervera, director of Mi Bus, has, since March 21, 2019, an operating notice to provide advice, consultancy, and project designs.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-rejected-china-hospital-center-donation

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Pandemic  “urgent” buys  lack accountability

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Posted 18/05/2020

The scandals generated by the  direct purchase of equipment and supplies in the midst of the  coronavirus pandemic highlights  the need  for  more transparency in purchases  by government says  Carlos Barsallo, of the Panama Chapter  of Transparency International (TI)

From the purchase of respirators and gel to the rejection of the donation of a modular hospital by a Chinese company,  citizens demand greater clarity and control in the management of resources from the Government.

Barsallo said that TI has been reiterating for a long time not only in Panama but in Latin America. "Transparency is here to stay and it is not enough to be publishing isolated data."

He contends that it is a comprehensive process and it is not just a matter of pursuing the issue of overpricing when cases are published, but that there is an important issue, which is the opportunity to offer and sell the good that needs to be purchased urgently, which means the participation of several companies.

For Barsallo, “direct emergency hiring is a potential focus of corruption and we must attack it beforehand and not react to it as we do almost every week, where there is a process of complaints, catharsis and litany, where everyone knows what he knows. "

He added that, in reality, what little is known is what is published by the media, so he proposes that the method be different and that the government publish everything from the beginning.

He asks that now  we go to the process of accountability to know that everything is in place and the information is reviewed by authorities and citizens.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/pandemic-urgent-buys-lack-accountability

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Minster asked for accounting of $12 modular hospital

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Posted 20/05/2020

Citizen concerns over the rejection of a donated hospital in Atlapa and possible cost overruns in the construction  of  A modular hospital have led to a  request by the Attorney General of the Administration for information from the  Rafael Sabonge Minister of Public Works .

Among the functions of the Administration Procurator, according to the Constitution, is to monitor the official conduct of officials and ensure that they properly perform their duties.

On Monday, the lawyer Ernesto Cedeño asked the Attorney - to hold Sabonge accountable, so that, among other things, he should exolain why he rejected the donation offered by the company China Construction America (CCA) to construct in the Amador conventions a hospital with 1,500 beds and, instead, hired the company SmartBrix Central America to build the 100-bed modular hospital, the cost of which, including equipment, is around $12 million..

Cedeño, , asked the Attorney General to consult Sabonge, for example, if it was true that the CCA company wanted to temporarily convert the Amador convention center into a modular hospital, with more than 1,500 beds,  the character.  O of donation; at what time the offer was made and if it reached the State in writing; and how much money the State would save with that donation.

He also asked the minister to say whether the construction of the modular hospital honored the principles of public procurement in the area of transparency and the rules for preventing a conflict of interest.

The lawyer has also said that, to date, the Ministry of Public Works has not explained why  Panama leaned towards hospital hotels and if it was cheaper than the rejected level 1 hospital.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/minster-asked-for-accounting-of-12-modular-hospital

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  • Moderator_02 changed the title to The Cortizo Administration and Its Legacy; Insider Corruption; "Butt-Kissing" Advisors, etc.

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