Thursday 11th April 2024.

April 10, 2024



More surprises continue to emerge from the interactive database presented by La Prensa on the economic aid provided by the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu) .

The Ifarhu has done everything possible to hide the information and almost completely succeeded. La Prensa was able to include in its database the names of 2,144 beneficiaries of the non-refundable aid program, but there are 2,759 additional disbursements that are kept secret, with a legend that reads “ information on the final beneficiary hidden by the Comptroller’s Office .” This represents 56.13% of the total aid.

The money, distributed between July 7, 2019 and May 24, 2023, represents a total expense of $141.6 million: 47% corresponds to the identified beneficiaries and 56% to the hidden ones . This is $75.5 million distributed at discretion and neither the Comptroller’s Office nor Ifarhu now want to say who they are.

Furthermore, among the disbursements whose beneficiary remains “hidden” there are 98 that received more than $100,000 in non-refundable aid . For 24 of them the disbursement was more than $190 thousand. Who are they? If they are public funds, why can’t anyone know what they are called?

There is little information about the Ifarhu criteria for granting financial aid, except that they are non-refundable funds, without competition and delivered at discretion; Nor is a high academic average required or to excel in any sports discipline or the fine arts.

On the list there are relatives of ministers, diplomats, suppliers, deputies, members of the PRD and even the President of the Republic himself, Laurentino Cortizo. It is now known that Ifarhu would also have granted a disbursement of $80,000 in favor of Ana Lorena Romero Noriega, granddaughter of former dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega.

While Katherina Altamirano Ortiz, granddaughter of the former vice president of the Republic, Tomás Gabriel Altamirano Duque, alias Fito Duque , received an aid of $99,000.

There was also $50,000 in aid for Haiman Shabetay, son of the merchant Poulett Morales , linked to several purchasing scandals in the National Aid Program (PAN).

In the regulations for scholarships, educational financial assistance and financial aid of Ifarhu , which consists of 71 articles, the requirements, rights and obligations of the students who are eligible for the scholarship and assistance programs are listed . Both highlight that preference will be given to those students who are “economically most in need”, from vulnerable areas or in situations of social risk.

In addition, both the scholarship program and the financial assistance program distribute fixed amounts: between $35 to $150 per month.

The regulation also states that the beneficiary must give his or her consent so that the Ifarhu can communicate with the study center and obtain the qualifications, if it is deemed necessary. If the scholarship recipient belongs to the general competition program for distinguished students , they lose the scholarship if their average at the end of the year is less than 4.2 . Likewise, you must provide a copy of your registration and report card, to prove that, in fact, you are studying at a school.

That is in terms of scholarship and financial assistance programs. The issue of aid is another matter: only two of the 71 articles of the Ifarhu regulations are dedicated to it. One explains that it is aimed “ at public officials and university professors who attend continuing education programs. Ifarhu officials, Panamanian students who require a financial contribution for their higher studies in universities in the country or abroad, and low-income students from official universities will also be able to access these financial aid .

The other indicates that “ this program will be subject to special regulations .”

La Prensa attempted to obtain a copy of the aforementioned regulation, which was not possible. It is also not available in the transparency section of the site .

A total of seven complaints that were filed against the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, and against the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, María Eugenia López, were filed this Wednesday, April 10, by the deputies of the Credentials Commission of the National Assembly.

Cortizo and López were denounced for the signing and approval of the mining contract, which generated strong rejection from citizens at the end of last year.

According to Deputy Raúl Pineda, president of the commission, in the case of President Cortizo, “files cannot be opened for the sole reason that a law was passed or not, since it is a constitutional task.” He added that in the case of the president of the Court, no causes were found either.

He announced that next week they would be analyzing the latest complaints filed against officials and magistrates of the Court, with which the Credentials Commission would conclude the process of studying, filing or opening the complaints filed in this instance.

In this way, he added, the Credentials Commission “would be clean of all the files of complaints” presented during the current legislative period (2019-2024).

Chile will cooperate with Panama to carry out the action plan for the orderly closure of the Panama Cobre Mine.

This was indicated in a statement by the Panamanian Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI) when it reported that Minister Jorge Rivera Staff held a virtual meeting with authorities of the Government of Chile related to the mining sector.

Rivera Staff announced that Chile communicated its commitment and willingness to provide all possible support to the Government of Panama to face the closure of Cobre Panamá.

“Chile will be supporting, sharing its experience and knowledge regarding legal closure regulations, closure guidelines for small and large mines, as well as mining guarantees; factors that they have learned and adjusted over time, after having experienced untimely closures for different reasons,” explained the Minister of Commerce and Industries.

At the meeting that was held virtually, the Minister of Mining of that country, Aurora Williams Baussa, was present for Chile; the Head of International Relations of the Ministry of Mining, Rodrigo Urquiza and the director of the National Geology and Mining Service, Patricio Aguilera.

The electoral race for Mayor of Panama , the largest in the country, advances with each of the seven candidates deploying their strategies to win the favor of the electorate.

This process is of crucial importance for the capital district, considering its notable population of one million inhabitants and 732,806 voters. The main problems in this area include poor waste management, lack of public spaces, sidewalks in poor condition, and a Panama City Hall plagued by bureaucracy and a large staff of employees.

On the one hand, we find continuity represented in the figure of the controversial mayor, José Luis Fábrega , who was nominated by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena).

Despite the questions, Fábrega carries out a campaign based on an inclusive, leading, safe and sustainable municipality. These are the pillars that make up his government plan.

Within one of these pillars, specifically that of the leading municipality, is the controversial proposal to build a new seafood market, one of the most debated projects in the current mayor’s administration and which has even been the subject of lawsuits, along with the project for a beach on the coastal strip.

Fábrega’s eventful management has seen a 60% increase in the workforce, which has generated concern among citizens and local activists, who question the need and efficiency of such an expansion in the municipal government.

This growth in the number of employees has had a direct impact on the municipal budget. In 2019, the Municipality of Panama disbursed $3.4 million per month to cover staff salaries, while now it amounts to $5.6 million.

Last weekend a surprise meeting took place between three candidates who aspire to lead the Mayor’s Office of Panama: Mayer Mizrachi , nominated by the Popular Party ; Raúl Rodríguez, of the Social Independent Alternative Party (PAIS) ; and Iván Blasser , for the free nomination.

He contacted the three, but the only one who responded was Rodríguez, who stated that it was a meeting between candidates, and not an alliance.

“There was no talk about an alliance; What we did discuss were the proposals we have for the Mayor of Panama, many of which coincide between the three of us,” he said.

Mizrachi’s campaign has been characterized by publishing images in which he promotes the creation of parks and public spaces with water ponds, digital libraries and free internet. He has also been seen repairing bridges.

On the other hand, Rodríguez, who is running for office again, has proposals such as the digitalization of processes such as the delivery of the vehicle sticker, the optimization of the use of resources and better waste management.

As for Blasser, as part of his work plan, there is the construction of peripheral markets in areas such as Río Abajo, the creation of a pet hospital and the transformation of the city by improving public spaces and sidewalks.

Through the alliance between the Democratic Change (CD) and Panameñista parties , the candidate to win the capital’s mayoralty is the mayor of the Don Bosco district, Guillermo Willie Bermúdez.

According to Bermúdez’s proposal, he seeks to transform the city into a clean and technologically advanced space in the first 100 days of his mandate. This includes the eradication of garbage, the installation of public Wi-Fi for greater connectivity and the simplification of bureaucratic procedures to streamline municipal services. In addition, he pledges to build new daycare centers, renew hundreds of kilometers of sidewalks to improve pedestrian mobility and reinforce security by implementing 1,000 surveillance cameras.

Another contender is Congressman Edison Broce, who is running under the banners of free nomination and the Other Path Movement (MOCA) . His government plan consists of three fundamental axes to enhance the capital district: green, safe and efficient city.

Among its proposals are the burying of cables, the improvement of public spaces, the promotion of recycling, reforestation and the application of zero tolerance to corruption. For two years, Broce has denounced the high number of appointments in the Mayor’s Office of Panama and has described them as “merely political.”

There is also Sergio Gálvez , nominated by the Realizing Goals (RM) and Alianza parties.

Some of their proposals focus on the creation of two subsidized municipal pharmacies, so that people have access to medicines at a lower cost. Likewise, he proposes establishing markets for residents of the Panama district.


More articles