Friday 15th December 2023.

December 14, 2023


The Budget Commission of the National Assembly approved several departure transfers for a total of more than $41.4 million on Thursday, December 14. This is extra money allocated in the 2023 budget for the ministries of Health (Minsa), Education (Meduca) and the Social Security Fund (CSS).

At the meeting, the first entity to support the request was Meduca. Minister Maruja Gorday explained that they need $11 million more than the $3,539 million allocated for this year to cancel pending accounts for infrastructure construction, teacher payrolls and payments for the provision of public services.

Minsa, which just approved a $450 bonus for its employees, asked to authorize $5.9 million for payment to health personnel and some hospital projects. The Commission approved the extra item, which was defended by Vice Minister Ivette Berrío.

While Berrío tried to prove the need to comply with the payment of salaries and over salaries of ministry positions and delayed infrastructure projects, the independent deputy, Juan Diego Vásquez, asked to speak.

“How are there millions in fixed salaries of health personnel that are not considered in the budget?” Vásquez asked. Immediately, he ironically asked another suggestive question: Is the budget poorly made that it did not foresee something that happens every year, such as the payment of staff?

Both this item and the payment to contractors, Vásquez added, must be topics planned by the entity.

When asked by the deputy, Berrío tried to justify herself with the following explanation: the budget is prepared based on what the population requires, but many times it depends on the analysis carried out by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) according to the coffers of the State. The Vice Minister of Health also pointed to excessive bureaucracy as one of the main reasons for the delay in projects.

In fact, in the Budget Commission it was reported that the Minsa has claims for $20 million related to the delay in payment to contractors and also debts to pay that amount to $605 million.

“We suffer from a bureaucracy that affects procedures in real time. This affects projects in time and money. Bureaucracy is a crucial point that must be worked on at the State level, since that ultimately affects the country,” he pointed out.

Another of the entities that requested transfer of departure was the Social Security Fund (CSS). It was the one that requested the most: $24.5 million for the payment of the seniority bonus of some 5 thousand officials who took advantage of the voluntary retirement plan.

The former president Ricardo Martinelli failed in another attempt to avoid 10 years in prison and the payment of a $19.2 million fine, to which who was convicted last July of money laundering: a court rejected a constitutional guarantee protection that he had presented in relation to decisions adopted by Judge Baloisa Marquínez, during the trial of the so-called New Business case.

With this, there are now four appeals rejected by the First Superior Court of Justice, which their lawyers have filed in this case.

In this protection, Martinelli alleged that Judge Marquínez violated her constitutional guarantees by not suspending the trial, which began on May 23, despite the fact that her lawyers reported that the former president had to undergo back surgery.

The magistrate Guimara Aparicio Ortega agreed with the judge.

“The act that is attacked has been issued by a competent judge within her legal powers, taking into account the procedure established by law for the type of process, so this Constitutional Court cannot intervene in the judgment or reasoning that corresponds to the judge. of the process,” said the judge, in a decision adopted on December 12.

That is to say, when Marquínez did not accept Martinelli’s request to suspend the trial, he did so in the exercise of his legal powers and in accordance with what the law provides for this type of procedure. Judge Ortega added that there is evidence in the jurisprudence: this is how the Supreme Court of Justice has ruled in amparos that previously alleged the same thing.

Among other things, Aparicio pointed out that the appeal presented by the defense had a series of inconsistencies, such as an obvious one: amparo is a legal tool for those moments when violations of constitutional guarantees occur, something that did not happen when the judge gave start of the trial hearing.

The business sector left the technical commission that analyzes the adjustment of the minimum wage.

“In last night’s session [Wednesday] what the private company proposed was to present its conclusions and send them to the table,” Doris Zapata, Minister of Labor and Labor Development (Mitradel), told the media this Thursday.

In that sense, Zapata added that Mitradel will continue to call for these conversations to continue, which are convened every two years.

This table was officially installed last August 30. Representatives of workers through different union organizations, employers and the Government participate in it. If an agreement is not reached between the parties, that is, between workers and employers, it would be the government that defines the increase as established by law.

The business sector, represented by the National Council of Private Enterprise (Conep), announced that it will send its conclusions in written form, while issuing a statement criticizing the alleged proposal to increase the minimum wage to $1,000, a figure that they described as “populist

The workers’ confederations represented at the table by the National Confederation of Independent Trade Union Unity and the National Council of Organized Workers, on the other hand, denied that a proposal for figures had been reached because they allege that they are still in the period of presentations by the different groups of workers. workers.

The provinces pending to be heard include: Los Santos, Herrera, Veraguas, Panamá Oeste, Panamá Este.

“Hot conditions remain in much of the country.”

This has been highlighted by the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama (Imhpa) by issuing a new surveillance notice due to high thermal sensation in almost the entire country.

The areas under this notice are: Chiriquí, Veraguas (south and center), Los Santos, Herrera, Coclé, Panamá Oeste, Panamá, Colón, Darién and the Guna Yala and Emberá indigenous regions.

The thermal sensation during the day will be 34 to 41 degrees Celsius, and at night 28 to 31 degrees Celsius, according to the forecasts of Emanuel Velásquez and María Cosme, Imhpa meteorologists.

The conditions would be reaching the category of extreme caution, producing the possibility of heatstroke, cramps and heat exhaustion due to prolonged exposure or some physical activity, the institution noted.

The notice is valid from this Thursday, December 14, until 11:59 p.m. from December 19, 2023.

The Government reported this Thursday, December 14 that the fixed price of $3.25 for 91 octane gasoline and diesel will be extended until next January 5, 2024.

In a statement from the Presidency of the Republic, it is stated that the measure was endorsed by the Cabinet Council and will come into effect as of this Friday, December 15.< /span>

This extension of the fixed price benefit will be for 22 days, taking into account that the previous extension expired on December 14.

The fuel subsidy emerged in mid-2022 when the Government reached an agreement with different social movements that were protesting in the streets about the cost of living, among other issues. In previous months of that year, it had also been approved to subsidize fuel consumption in public, commercial and agricultural transportation.

The difference is assumed by the State before the shipping companies.

It should be noted that 95 octane gasoline is no longer in this subsidy plan and has been sold at regular price since last April.< /span>

According to data from the Government Innovation Authority, until December 9, the State has subsidized $295 million in fuel to private vehicle owners. Meanwhile, between selective and collective transportation and commercial and agricultural transportation, the figure amounts to $206.5 million.

Carlos Javier Bartuano, one of the two people arrested yesterday, Wednesday, during a police chase that culminated on the Ricardo J. Alfaro road and that lasted for almost three hours, He was released by the authorities, after no pending criminal charges.

Sources linked to the investigations revealed that Bartuano was released this Thursday, while the other arrested person, identified as Luis José Abrego, 27 years old, was placed under the orders of the Public Ministry (MP) as he is pursuing a process for the alleged commission of the crime of homicide.

Ábrego must appear in the next few hours before a guarantee judge to clarify his procedural situation, since he maintained a community service measure for the aforementioned crime.

Police sources confirmed that Ábrego was arrested on May 24, 2018 in the Condado del Rey area aboard a Hyundai Tucson vehicle with two other people, who were carrying items to allegedly enter residences in the area.

Then, on January 21, 2021, he was identified by Parque Lefevre police officers for their respective verification. Meanwhile, on March 29 of that same year, a certain amount of illicit substance was found. While on June 18 he was taken to the Bella Vista police station for disturbing peaceful coexistence.

According to official reports, it was on July 20, 2023 when the authorities ordered his arrest for the alleged commission of a crime against life and personal integrity.

The extensive police operation in which both Ábrego and Bartuano were apprehended occurred after failing to obey a stop order by motorized police near the Multiplaza shopping center, which led to a chase.

The two were traveling in a Ford Explorer truck, with license plate AR807, which was intercepted on Ricardo J. Alfaro road in the vicinity of the Dos Mares urbanization.

The police had to break the rear window of the truck with an explosive and throw tear gas to force them to get out of the vehicle.


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