Monday 17th July 2023.

July 16, 2023


“We are going to put an end to clientelism and corruption that destroys society. I am not coming back to leave the country as it is. Panama is not anyone’s business, the robbery is over, there will be new rules of the game, where the one who does it pays”.

This was part of the message that the former ruler of the Republic, Martín Torrijos ,gave this Sunday, after being ratified by the Popular Party (PP) as its presidential standard-bearer for the elections on May 5, 2024.

During the Extraordinary National Congress of the PP, 359 delegates supported Torrijos as the presidential candidate of this group; six voted against and there was a null vote. In total, 366 delegates participated in this political event.

After this proclamation, Torrijos affirmed in his speech that, if he wins the next elections, “we will make the transformations that are needed but that nobody has dared to do”, where education and health are key, remarked the now presidential candidate.

The former Panamanian president spoke of a National Medicines Agency that will end shortages and price abuses, of a new Cancer Institute in Panama City and another in the interior of the country to improve patient care. “Yes, friends, we have to save the Social Security Fund (CSS) again due to the irresponsibility of the last three governments… we are going to do it,” he assured.

Torrijos also mentioned the creation of a Public Water Institute, which will plan and guarantee that water reaches everywhere, and that the Panama Canal operates at its capacity.

In this speech, which lasted about 12 minutes, Torrijos also commented that there is a “war of promises”, where the train is arriving in Costa Rica, the Panama Metro looks like a “spider web” and they talk about more schools than students. “In that contest I am not going to compete,” he assured, while pledging that, if he reaches the presidencia, he will govern “with the best.”

“Let’s understand that in these elections the country is at stake, we all risk it,” said Torrijos, who already presided over the country between 2004-2009. And this Sunday he was confident in achieving the presidential victory again.

So far, Torrijos is the fourth presidential candidate for next year’s elections. Ricardo Martinelli (Achieving Goals), José Gabriel Carrizo (PRD) and Rómulo Roux (Cambio Democrático) have already been proclaimed for this contest.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) reiterated this Sunday that millions of dollars “long overdue” accumulate in accounts payable that the State has with the private companies.

In the Sunday column La Cámara Opina, the union explained that, to mention a few obligations, $22 million is owed to businesses that process the Universal Scholarship; $95 million to drug providers; $18 million to the supermarkets that accept the Vale Digital and almost $600 million owed to the banks as preferential interest. And much of this defaulting by more than 180 days, pointed out the business organization chaired by Adolfo Fábrega. “The consequences of non-payment by public institutions are negative,” he said.

In the first place – added the union – the affected companies suffer in their cash flow and lack of liquidity, which can result in them not being able to meet their own obligations, often affecting their workers and suppliers. Second, companies cannot adequately plan their growth, since much of it depends on capital investment, which is constrained by non-payment.

“This domino effect of consequences ends up affecting the national banking system, due to the increase in the delinquent portfolio of the system caused by the non-compliance of the companies to which the State owes their payments for goods delivered and services rendered,” he said.

Thus, the union demanded that the Government address this problem and honour the commitments made as soon as possible for the general benefit of the institutions, private companies and the general public.”

The Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) has agreed with the Executive and declared that the entire bill 697, which regulates the commercialization and use of crypto assets in the country, known as “crypto law”, is unenforceable.

“For formal reasons, the entire bill 697 of 2021 is contrary to article 170 of the Political Constitution,” indicated the plenary session of the supreme court, in a ruling on June 6, whose speaker was Judge María Eugenia Lopez Arias. Judge Olmedo Arrocha saved his vote.

In its decision, the Court alleges that the National Assembly did not comply with the parameters established by the Constitution for the formation of laws. Remember that when a bill is challenged, the National Assembly can consider its discussion only in relation to the articles presented by the Executive. That did not happen with Bill 697.

“It is verified that the plenary session of the Assembly, in the second debate of bill 697, not only responded to the objections formulated by the Executive Branch, but also approved the modifications of provisions that were not objected to and new ones were added with a content that was not part of the originally approved bill, forbidding the possibility for the Executive to present objections regarding these new provisions”, states the ruling of June 6.

Project 697 was vetoed by President Cortizo in June 2022, considering that the legislative initiative required adapting to the regulations that regulate the financial system and the Panamanian monetary model.

The administration of Ricardo Martinelli baptized it as a ” Melting Pot” in 2010 and now the Government of Laurentino Cortizo called it ” Temporary Protection Permit”. The essence of both programs is basically the same: that those irregular migrants with at least one year in the country can regulate their status and stay legally for up to two years.

The measure was approved through Decree 112 of July 13, 2023, which was published this week in the Official Gazette. The regularization process for foreigners will begin today, Monday, and will last for one year, that is, until July 2024.

According to the new immigration regulations, aspects such as national security and the fight against organized crime were considered. Faced with this, the need arises to adopt temporary measures that provide immigration status to those who are in an irregular condition and in a high level of vulnerability, in the face of crimes such as human trafficking and other trafficking, in its different modalities.

The program is aimed at foreigners, regardless of nationality, who have been in the country for one year and who have not carried out any procedure to regularize their situation.

The migrant who applies for these temporary permits will have to pay $500 as immigration service; if the applicant is a minor, the cost will be $250.

To this must be added $100 for the card, a certified or cashier’s check for $200 from the National Bank in favor of the National Immigration Service and another check for $150 in favor of the National Treasury, as a contribution to tax obligations. The foregoing assumes that an adult must pay a total of $950 (the figure decreases to $700 if a minor) for the new immigration permit

The amounts collected will be distributed: 70% for the Ministry of the Presidency, for “social assistance and security”, and 30% to be deposited in a special fund for the development of human resources of the National Migration Service (SNM).

One of those who closely follows this issue is the independent deputy Juan Diego Vásquez, who questioned the delivery of funds to the Presidency, practically on a discretionary basis and in the middle of a political election.

“The funds arrive where the vice president [José Gabriel Carrizo] works and where he was Minister of the Presidency and where he has his named files. What are we talking about? It’s a shame,” he said.

The Panamanian soccer team fought, battled and demonstrated their quality, then came Mexico’s striker Santiago Giménez, who became their angel by putting the ball in the back of Panama’s goal making it 1-0 and giving Mexico another Gold Cup title.

Our team led by Thomas Christiansen did not disappoint, creating plays throughout the game, but the forwards were just unable finish.

Then, Giménez appeared and in the final stretch of the game (88 ‘), fought Harold Cummings and ultimately ending the game by depositing the ball in the nets.

For Panama it was their third final in the maximum event of the Concacaf and they still have not been able to lift the cup. But I have not seen the team play as hard as they did last night, in the semi they beat the current champions the USA and were up against an eight (now nine) times winner in Mexico, they did us proud, we can all hold our heads up hight. Welcome them home, give them a hug, and with the continued support of Thomas Cristiansen we can look forward to a strong showing in the World Cup next year. Well done the Reds!


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