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Awaiting action on Varela election promises

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Awaiting action on Varela election promises

Posted on January 1, 2017 in Panama

Deputies dress in white for their return to business
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LAWMAKERS  returning to the National Assembly after the holiday break will be faced with three issues that have been hanging fire as the administration continues to dawdle.

They will have to move on constitutional reforms, adjustments to Social Security and changes to electoral laws.

Despite promises during President Varela’s election campaign  to convene a constituent assembly, there is still no sign of whether this will be done and what mechanism  will be used reports La Prensa.

The Varela government’s plan for 2014­- 2019 said this was supposed to happen in his first year in office, but no action has been taken and Varela has been frequently criticized for what is deemed his tortoise like approach to challenges.

Carlos Lee, of the Citizen’s Alliance for Justice, said this will be “a key year” for the reforms, as it has to be done before the 2019 election cycle.

“After 2017 political parties will be more interested in the campaign,” he said.

He also stated that if these issues are not addressed, the conditions for any debate on a profound reform and a new constitutional model “will not be possible.”

Constitutionalist Rolando Murgas Torrazza  concurred.

He believes that the country needs deep reforms to the Constitution. “Sooner or later, it will have to be faced,” he said, but pointed out that the proper conditions must first be generated.

“It seems that the political class has other concerns. If they do not do it this year, it will be difficult for them to do so in 2018,” he warned.

Structural changes  to Social Security,  must be made this year  if it is to remain solvent says former Health Minister Carlos Abadía

He told La Prensa  that  he supports dividing the entity into two: an administrative part and one to handle medical benefits.

“Not making the changes this year would be a sign of irresponsibility and ignorance towards the main institution of the country, and with the consequences for everyone,” he said.

Electoral reforms will  be the first items on the agenda,  to be discussed and approved in the early months of 2017.

Assembly  president Rubén De León, announced that a discussion of the reforms would begin Jan. 10. Tribunal Electoral Judge Eduardo Valdés Escoffery said: “It is imperative that the reforms be approved as soon as possible.”


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Varela makes new promise on Constitution

Posted on January 2, 2017 in Panama

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CRITICIZED   over his 2013 unfulfilled promise promised to convene a Parallel Constituent Assembly if elected, President Juan Carlos Varela made a fresh promise in his address to the National Assembly on Monday Jan. 2

Without giving details he promised  to provide a road map for constitutional reforms, in the next six months “We have to complete the electoral reforms to guarantee the transparency of the political campaigns,” he said.

Critics have  stressed  that unless action is taken in early 2017, it will be too late because by year  end the political parties will be gearing up for the next election.

The earlier promise was even included in his administration’s  plan of government, but has since been ignored reports La Prensa.

“I recognize that on some issues we have not been able to move forward as quickly as I would like,” Varela told the Assembly during the installation of the second term of the third regular session.

He also announced measures to reform the water and sewer agency (Idaan), which has been the source of discontent in many communities deprived of water for extended periods.

He said the changes will provide Idaan with a legal and operational structure to guarantee its operation as “a model and efficient public company.


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