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Social Security director says agency needs fiscal reform

Malou Mendoza P. 13 sep 2016 - 15:04h

Temas: CSS Asamblea Nacional Estivenson Girón

Social Security Director Estivenson Giron told the Budget Commission of the National Assembly today that "the institution is facing a financial crisis that threatens its existence."

He presented a report to the committee that outlined the problems facing the agency, namely that if something is not done to offset its deficit spending, the agency will run out of reserves.

He said there needs to be a "national dialogue" to find the most effective formula to ensure the agency's financial future.

He said this can only be achieved through a "consensus of all Panamanians."


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Social Security facing financial crisis

Posted on September 14, 2016 in Panama

Estivenson Giron
Post Views: 118

PANAMA’S  Social Security System is facing a financial crisis that threatens its existence says its director Estivenson Giron.

“If reforms aren’t made, the agency’s pension fund will run out of money by 2027, and will start losing money in 2019” he wrote in a report submitted to legislators on Tuesday, September 13.

The first step he suggested is a complete audit of the agency’s finances.

“We cannot talk about reforms if we do not have the figures we need,” he said.

“It is irresponsible to talk about reforms if we do not have the correct information.”

Rafael Chavarria, of the National Council of Organized Workers (Conato),sais  the crisis facing Social Security is a product of bad management, which has also affected the health care services it provides.

“There is a shortage of medicines and hospitals aren’t operated properly. This is due to bad administration,” he said.

He was also concerned about the lack of correct financial information.

Chamber of Commerce President Jorge Garcia Icaza agreed that the agency’s finances need to be studied before any decisions are made.

He also suggested that the medical and retirement services offered by the agency be run separately, since they serve different groups reports La Prensa.


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Social Security boss under investigation

Posted on September 22, 2016 in Panama

Estivenson Giron
Post Views: 77


THE HEAD of Panama’s stumbling Social Security Service CSS)  is to be  investigated by the institution’s Board of Directors.

Estivenson Giron  is accused of  “deficiencies” in his management.

Néstor Vega, representative of the agency’s professional employees, said that there are shortages of drugs and medical supplies at Social Security, which has affected the service provided to insured persons.

He said these problems have been outlined in internal reports by the agency.

“There has to be an investigation,” he said.

Irma Delgado, president of the board, said that it is “evaluating” all these problems and complaints that have been presented against the current administration.

At the same time, she said that inspections have been made of various facilities.

Emma Finch, a patient advocate, said that there are shortages of some 250 medications, a fact confirmed by the National Medical Negotiating Commission.

Asked if he was afraid of losing his job, Giron responded, “why would I if I am doing nothing wrong.”


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OPINION: CSS in crisis needs new boss

Estivnson Giron, CSS Director

La Prensa Dec, 17

THE SOCIAL Security Fund (CSS) faces a systemic crisis and is  bureaucratic, inefficient and hostile to the. user population of the health services,

Further, basic medicines and supplies are missing, the maintenance of hospital facilities is deficient and the intermittent presence of nosocomial bacteria is part of the everyday landscape.

As if this were not enough, the Disability, Old Age and Death program maintains an actuarial deficit of approximately $ 11 billion, and CSS management seems unconcerned.

Against this fact. scandals continue to flourish in the purchasing process and and amid the black comedies of world congresses and changes of logos, the entity drowns in trivialities and refuses to face its great challenges.

The peculiar board of directors of CSS has abdicated its supervisory and supervisory functions, so we only have citizens to  demand the obvious: the immediate departure of the current CEO. We must save the

Social Security Fund and the change to a leadership capable of running the institution cannot be postponed further


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Social Security Director resigns

Posted on December 22, 2016 in Panama

Estivenson Giron
Post Views: 143

PANAMA’S BELEAGUERED Social Security Director Estivenson Girón resigned Thursday, Dec. 22 after months of harsh criticism of his management.

“I resigned,” Girón told La Prensa. His resignation, he said, will be effective Dec. 31.

“Basically there are insurmountable differences with the comptroller,” said the official. “At the end of the road, it’s my fault.”

Girón was appointed on Aug. 30, 2014 by President Juan Carlos Varela. He replaced Guillermo Sáez­Llorens, who is facing corruption charges.

Girón had worked at Social Security for nine years as a financial analyst.

He is a university professor of marketing and economics at the undergraduate, postgraduate, masters and doctorate levels at the University of the Isthmus. He was also a professor at the Universidad Santa María la Antigua.

In recent months he has carried out controversial bids, for ambulances  medicines and supplies.


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Social Security boss faces probe on teaching job during office hours

Posted on December 30, 2016 in Off The Cuff

Angelica Maytin ants answers before Giron leaves post
Post Views: 66

IF EMBATTLED  Social Security(CSS) director Estivenson Girón  thought he had put his problems aside when he presented his resignation on December 22, he had reckoned without Angela Maytin who heads the nation’s Transparency Authority (Antai).

Girón’s resignation was to become effective Dec 31, but Matin has demanded that before leaving the post he responds to seven requests she has  sent in recent months, and that he ask for the resignation of his daughter-in-law from the institution.

If he had hoped to disappear quietly into the halls of academia, that too may be in doubt. Antai is conducting an investigation into Girón for allegedly teaching classes in a University during his working hours.

He wouldn’t be alone in that transgression.


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Social Security boss quits after 14 months

Post Views: 112
AFTER only 14 months on the job, Dr. Alfredo Martiz has resigned as director general of Panama’s problem laden Social Security Fund (CSS). He is the third director in as many years,

Thw former diplomat’s resignation becomes effective on September 1.

The decision was communicated by Martiz on Thursday, August 16, at the weekly meeting of the board of directors of the entity.

He is the third director of the CSS in the  four years of the Juan Carlos Varela administration Estivenson Girón was the  first following a Martinelli appointee facing corruption charges. He was followed by, Rubén López, and Martiz took over in April last year.

It is unknown who will replace him, reports La Prensa. Julio García Valarini is the assistant director.

Martiz leaves the entity in the middle of a crisis of shortage of medicines and supplies, and a week after CSS reported 21 deaths in the  neonatology intensive care  unit  of the Arnulfo Arias Madrid complex -11 more than the monthly average.



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Rudderless hospital service awaits Varela action

Alfredo Martiz
Post Views: 163
A WEEK after the director of the Social Security Fund (CSS),  Dr. Alfredo Martiz, announced his resignation from a post seen as increasingly politicized, patients associations and members of the board of directors are awaiting presidential action to name his replacement.

Roger Barés, leader of the Patient and Family members Protection Committee, said  that, according to Law 51 of 2005, which governs the social security entity, it is the deputy director, Julio García Valarini, who must assume the position, although only for a period of up to 90 days, while designating the new director.

“What worries us is that we are in politicking times and the CSS has been politicized, “said Barés.  He said that patients require a person who is committed and can guarantee good care, medicines, and medical-surgical supplies.

Irma Delgado, a member of the board of directors said that Ideally, García Valarini would assume the position of director and remain there for the rest of this governmental period. “The most important thing would be to support the deputy director in his management, “she said. Normally the board of directors makes a call and evaluates the profile of those interested in directing the CSS. A shortlist is sent to the President, who appoints the director. of the institution.

Martiz leaves the CSS amid complaints from patients over lack of medicines. He was the third director during the current government.



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New director of social security fund in Panama takes office amidst crisis

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 19:59


The new director of the Social Security Fund of Panama, Julio García Valarini, took office and said the drug supply problem affecting the entity for years is one of his main concerns.

García Valarini took office after the resignation on August 16 of his predecessor, Alfredo Martiz, who became the third director to resign so far in the current Administration, the Ministry of Health reported today.

During Juan Carlos Varela's government, whose term began in July 2014, the institution was administered by Estivenson Girón and Rubén López.

García Valarini is an otolaryngologist at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Panama and since the end of 2014 directed the so-called National Census of Preventive Health, said the Panamanian Ministry.

The new director takes office amidst the crisis affecting this public health entity, one of the most important in the country, due to medicine and supply shortage and the death of 21 infants in a hospital of the capital in July.



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Delinquent businesses put Panama pensions at risk


Posted 19/01/2020

PANAMA’S Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (Cciap) has warned that if moves are not made to rein in companies who owe millions of dollars in social security (CSS) payments, funds that support the benefits for pensioners and retirees will reach a critical level.

The Chamber calls for an urgent review of companies that are delinquent with the Social Security Fund (CSS) and point to 2023 as the exhaustion date for pensions.

"As a serious and responsible guild, we are the first to urge the fulfillment of the responsibilities of private companies to the CSS," said a Cciap release statement on Sunday, January 19.

The business union proposed in its Country Agenda 2019-2024 document the separation of the social security entity into two: one that addresses the strictly financial issues related to the Disability, Old Age and Death Program; and another, the aspects related to the provision of health services.

“We insist on the importance of establishing dialogue and consultation to analyze this and other contributions from the private sector, which can strengthen the criteria adopted now, with the help of the best wishes of the country, and thereby overcome the 1/19/2020 Chamber of Commerce: A review of delinquent companies must be done with the CSS and thereby overcome the crisis that the CSS has been dragging for decades.



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Blitz to recover $280 million social security payments from delinquent businesses


Posted 22/01/2020

With the threat that in three years the reserves of Panama’s Social Security Fund  (CSS) will have dried up, the agency deployed hundreds of operatives on  Monday, Jan 21 to knock on doors of delinquent businesses that collectively owe over $280 million.

On Wednesday, it announced that all its agencies are authorized to make payments, whether partial or complete, of the debts that are owed to the entity.

Those who have outstanding accounts with the CSS are urged to catch up and "thus help keep the finances of this social security institution healthy," said an agency statement.

According to the latest report on late payment to the entity there is about $280 million made up of worker contributions that have already been deducted and not reported and the contributions that employers are required to provide by law.

On January 14, CSS Director  Enrique Lau Cortés, revealed that for two years the reserves of the pension program are being used and that they will be exhausted in 2023.



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OPINION: The destruction of Social Security


Posted 18/09/2021

The Social Security Fund (CSS) is going through one of its worst economic moments, but that does not mean that the institution is saved from being considered political booty. There they will give dozens of "recommended" deputies and other politicians to be appointed, becoming a burden for the institution, but which solves the political patronage. This is how the CSS has a payroll of 35,000 employees –25,000 more than the Panama Canal–, proof that the institution is the target of political voracity. Added to the problem of the fat payroll is that among its employees there are "entrepreneurs" who take equipment and medicines from the entity to open their own businesses, depriving the insured of these. This implies the existence of two other problems. The first is that the CSS controls lend themselves to these small-time “businessmen” stealing from the impoverished institution and its policyholders. The second is that these people act like this because they follow examples. If many are appointed without any merit - aware that they are not doing a job, but because some politician has leverage - the next thing is to take advantage of the institution, as on this occasion. This is condemning the institution to its destruction. LA PRENSA, Sep.18.



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Social Security Fund on its death bed

Posted 04/09/2022

The Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (Cciap) said Sunday that for over 15 years, it has insisted and called for "urgent" reforms to be made to the structure and governance of the Social Security Fund (CSS) and "the national government has no more time and has to act."

This, was after the Technical Actuarial Board referred to the weak financial status of the exclusively defined benefit pension system.

In a report delivered to the Social Security Administration, the board warned that “time has run out and the necessary measures to balance the regime cannot be delayed. Postponing the decision will have serious economic, political, and social consequences for the country.”

“The patient is dying and with this, we will not only have to introduce the structural changes that we have avoided implementing for years, but the cost of being hospitalized for so long will be higher for everyone,” said the Chamber.

The Cciap recalled that in 2021 the employer sector participated in the dialogue established by the Government, reiterating the importance and need for the worker sector to be part of it. At that time, the intervention of the International Labor Organization was considered beneficial.

“However, it was said that this body would deliver a report between July and August of this year, but it has not arrived; Meanwhile, the CSS is dying, and it really can't take another second”.

The organization pointed out that the diagnosis has been made for years and that this administration "has the last chance" to lead a change in the system that guarantees its economic sustainability and the future well-being of all Panamanians.”

In the chamber’s opinion, proposing short-term proposals that ignore the country's demographic and economic reality is to deceive the population and condemn the country to failure. The moment requires us to be realistic and face the situation responsibly, in order to ensure the future of all Panamanians, the union emphasized.

"Mr. president! If there is a decision that must be made with a profound impact on the quality of life of its people, this is it. Save our patient” concluded the statement.


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Action  NOW to save Panama pension plan -  business leaders


Posted 25/09/2022

The country's business sector says that it is urgent to reach agreements and take action as soon as possible to save Panama's public pension system, which is in a critical stage.

“The report of the International Labor Organization on the Social Security Fund was made public with several critical conclusions, among them, the fact that high unemployment rates and the increase in informality have further worsened the situation of the social security system retirement and pensions of the entity”, said the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (Cciap) on Sunday, September 25.

The chamber indicated that given this reality "the option of not doing and letting time pass would mean a profound act of irresponsibility on the part of the current administration."

According to the businessmen, they are aware that reaching agreements on the route to follow "is not easy" and that it will probably not be resolved before the end of Laurentino Cortizo's term, in July 2024.

“However, this cannot be an excuse to sit idly by, because time is running out. If we don't start to act, retirees will arrive at the ATM and find themselves surprised that they haven't received their monthly payment,” it added.

In its report, the ILO confirms in its conclusions the short time that Panama has to make decisions before the Social Security Disability, Old Age and Death (IVM) subsystem runs out of reserves in 2024.

In a 182-page document, the agency specified that the progressive reduction of active contributors and, therefore, the fall in income from contributions, the exhaustion in 2024 of the total reserve of the IVM subsystem, and the accelerated increase in the number of new pensions, will create strong pressure to finance the growing spending on the program.

This is how the projected annual operating deficit in nominal terms will grow and will reach a maximum annual limit in the year 2050, close to $7.5 billion, the document indicates.


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’Social and economic crisis’ if pension system collapses


Posted 16/10/2022

The need for the State to confront once and for all the situation of the Social Security Fund was reiterated  Sunday by Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (Cciap).

“It will be useless to seek opportunities for the country and its people, if the pension system, the heart of the Panamanian economy collapses, this would mean a real social crisis that would end up destroying the little trust that exists in Panamanians and would plunge the country into a new economic crisis”, says a statement from the Chamber.

 The Cciap recalled that it has presented a series of initiatives that seek to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to attract foreign investment to the country, and position Panama as a meeting center for international events, conventions, and meetings.

This is how the “FRANCHISING PANAMA” program was recently presented to the business community, which encourages SMEs to become franchises so that they can expand to local and international markets through this business model. A proposal that thinks "outside the box" in order to explore new opportunities for this segment.

At the same time, trade missions have been undertaken to Colombia and, more recently, to  Guadalajara in Mexico; while, in November, it will go to Peru seeking to attract foreign investment to the country, and this translates into new companies and industries that create jobs and transfer knowledge for Panamanians.

In addition, this week, the CCIAP and the Logistics Business Council (COEL) will develop the Seventh World Forum of Logistics Cities and Platforms, once again positioning our country as that nerve center where international meetings, conventions, or congresses can converge; promoting the MICE tourism industry, which also means jobs and opportunities for companies of all sizes.


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PENSION CRISIS: ‘To sit idly by would be irresponsible’- Business Chamber


President "Nito" Cortizo meets ILO members

Posted 20/08/2023

Panama’s  Chamber of Commerce, Industries, and Agriculture (Cciap), reacted to the recent visit of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to support a report −which was delivered last year− revealing that the pension crisis in the country is critical.

The union pointed out that on repeated occasions it has made urgent calls to the national authorities to act with the haste that this serious situation demands.

“The solution is not to go back to a system that has already proven to be a failure; this has also been reiterated by the ILO and by the actuaries of the Social Security Fund. Nor is it taking away from the taxpayers of the individual accounts subsystem, what they have contributed for so long”, stated the union, chaired by Adolfo Fábrega.

In the organization's opinion, preventing poverty in old age, guaranteeing the financial sustainability of an equitable pension program, and including the participation of workers and employers through voluntary savings to improve pensions are the objectives that must be considered in the face of this crisis.

"Those who are called to lead a country will not always be able to make easy decisions, but due to the responsibility they have assumed, they must seek the best alternatives, with a long-term vision," the union said.

The Cciap emphasizes that it is aware that reaching agreements is complex and that this will not be fully resolved in this period, but "neither can the President of the Republic and the current authorities be exempted from this responsibility, especially in light of the clear recommendations of the ILO”.

"At least it is urgent to start the process, and in the same way commit the next rulers," he added.

This statement comes after the board of directors of the Social Security Fund (CSS) received ILO representatives last Thursday, who warned of the consequences of merging the two public pension programs, which would create a cushion until 2028 to face the payment to retirees. But this would only be a temporary exit to later experience an increase in the deficit that would drag down the contributors of the mixed system and those of the defined subsystem.


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