Friday 23rd February 2024.

February 22, 2024


This Thursday, a group of lawyers brought to the Electoral Court (TE) a copy of the conviction in the New Business case, with which former president Ricardo Martinelli was declared guilty , as well as four other people.

There, a sentence of 128 months in prison and the payment of a fine of $19.2 million is declared to Martinelli, which is why the group of lawyers requests the TE to proceed with the disqualification of the former president, in accordance with article 180 of the Constitution .

Martinelli, who is seeking asylum in the Nicaraguan embassy, ​​officially remains a candidate for president of the Republic for the Realizing Goals (RM) and Alianza parties. Martinelli is also a candidate for deputy of the 8-4 circuit in the capital.

Article 180 of the Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama establishes the prohibition that people who have a conviction for an intentional crime of 5 years or more in prison may not be elected as president or vice president of the Republic. Martinelli’s sentence is 10 years and eight months in prison.

Neftalí Jaén , who is in the group of lawyers who approached the TE this Thursday, alleged that it is a public and notorious fact that Martinelli maintains a prison sentence for the crime of money laundering, confirmed by a higher court in October 2023. and by the Criminal Chamber of the Court on February 2.

He said that the TE magistrates no longer have “excuses” to declare the disqualification of Martinelli as a presidential candidate, in light of the provisions of articles 33 and 338 of the Electoral Code, in accordance with articles 14 and 180 of the referring Constitution . to the requirements to occupy the positions of President of the Republic and Deputy of the National Assembly.

The TE informed La Prensa that, for the moment, they will not make a statement on the matter.

Last Tuesday, Judge Alfredo Juncá , president of the TE, informed this medium that the TE will not act ahead of time. “We are going to respect due process and, as soon as we receive this communication, expeditiously and respecting due process, we are going to look at the case,” he explained.

The Minister of Commerce and Industries, Jorge Rivera Staff , led a meeting this Thursday with directors of the company Minera Panamá, SA , focused on the issue of visits to Cobre Panamá and the supervision of the mine’s prevention and management plan.

During this meeting, the minister emphasized the Government’s responsibility in coordinating these visits, as an integral part of the previously established citizen oversight plan.

Despite the interest expressed by company executives in opening the doors of Cobre Panamá to the public, through a “visitor program,” Rivera Staff clarified that it is the national government that will determine and coordinate these tours.

After the paralysis of the exploration, extraction and marketing activities of the Cobre Panamá mine, after the Supreme Court of Justice declared on November 28 that the contract between Minera Panamá and Mici was unconstitutional, the company announced a visitors to give people access to these facilities.

The announcement of the guided tours was made last Tuesday by the directors of Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian company First Quantum . A day later, on Wednesday, February 21, Mici summoned the company’s directors.

Rivera Staff was accompanied by the Vice Minister of Domestic Trade and Industries, Candice Herrera , and her work team.

On behalf of Minera Panamá, Keith Green , country manager, and Jorge Carney , Government Relations manager, attended.

Tristan Pascall , CEO of First Quantum Minerals, had indicated to a group of market analysts that he expected to receive 3,000 visitors per month.

Mici sources indicated that the guided tours of the mine aim to validate that the closure of the mine is done in a transparent manner and with citizen participation. “The idea is that citizen observers can observe that the mine is not operating,” she said.

However, the company’s announcement, which anticipated nearly 3,000 visits per month, gave the impression that these were mining tours . The announcement was made by Maru Gálvez, current spokesperson for Minera Panamá, and who has always worked in the tourism sector.

The Cabinet Council announced the authorization for the issuance of public debt bonds called global bonds , in the international capital market, for up to an amount of $3.5 billion.

The Cabinet resolution was published in the Official Gazette 29974 of this Thursday, February 22, 2024.

The decree indicates that “the funds raised in these securities issues, once the structuring costs associated with them are covered, will be used to support the General State Budget for the fiscal period 2024 and/or future fiscal periods.”

Panama’s debt closed 2023 at $47,025 million , an increase of $20,413 million during the administration of Laurentino Cortizo , according to the report from the Public Financing Directorate.

The economist, Felipe Chapman, partner at Indesa, warns that the issuance of more debt in the international market by Panama has the effect of putting greater fiscal pressure on the Government’s cash flow due to the increase in this debt, but also because It is coming onto the market at a time when the interest rate is much higher. That is to say, financing is becoming more expensive for Panama than before.

“This has several effects, greater fiscal pressure on cash flow, and in turn the proportion of debt over gross domestic product also increases,” Chapman said.

He argued that the increase in debt also impacts the country risk premium, perceived in the markets, which is reflected in a higher interest rate that will have to be paid for public financing, but also affects the financing for the private sector, that is, banks, companies, people and households.

In the 2024 budget, it has been projected to pay $5,657 million of debt. This allocation constitutes 18% of the general budget, which rose to $30.69 billion.

The payments that must be made are directly related to the balance that has increased in recent years. As the debt grows, the corresponding payments also increase accordingly.

From the perspective of economist Carlos Araúz, this year public finances are hit and in this situation and with looming debt maturities, these debt issuance movements are simply necessary.

“The state budget for the year requires these actions. The bet is that they will not be used for more payroll expenses or linked to acts that border on clientelism,” Araúz warned.

Unfortunately, the cost is a concern since it will be almost double what it was 18 months ago, which means less money for necessary social spending: less funds for schools and hospitals.

The workers of the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority (AAUD) declared a sit-down strike in rejection of a possible transfer of some of the staff to the Tanara sector, in Chepo.

According to Gloria Castillo, spokesperson for the workers, a company was hired a year ago to provide waste collection service in the eastern sector of the province of Panama, but she said that this never fully materialized, and it was the same personnel. of the AAUD who carried out the work.

Castillo mentioned that now the company will begin working and that the AAUD informed them that some workers will be sent to Tanara to provide garbage collection service in the Chepo district.

Faced with this situation, the cleaning workers started a strike and marched along Via España until they gathered near Plaza 5 de Mayo to protest against this transfer. They demand the presence of the director of the AAUD, Rafael Prado, and the Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre.

Personnel from the Ombudsman’s Office arrived at the protest site to learn more about the workers’ claim.

Vehicular traffic through the Amador sector was affected this Thursday morning by a protest in front of the Ministry of Security, while a similar situation was recorded on the grounds of Plaza 5 de Mayo.

Images of a group of people closing the road have been published on social networks. Preliminarily, it was learned that the protest is being carried out by retired police officers, who are demanding pension payments.

Drivers heading towards Amador and those who want to leave that sector have shown their discomfort about the situation.

In the streets surrounding Plaza 5 de Mayo there is also a closure of roads by sanitation workers, who are against a transfer to another sector and other demands from the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority.

Fuel prices will increase starting this Friday, February 23, 2024, as announced by the National Secretariat of Energy.

95 octane gasoline will increase by three cents per liter, reaching a price of $1.03 per liter ($3.90 per gallon), while 91 octane gasoline will also increase three cents, reaching $0.96 per liter ($3.63 per gallon).

Low sulfur diesel will see an increase of four cents per liter, settling at $0.98 ($3.71 per gallon).

These new prices will be in effect from 6:00 am on Friday, February 23 until 5:59 am on Friday, March 8.


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