Friday 30th September 2022.

September 30, 2022

With 37 in favor, 3 against and zero abstentions, the plenary session of the National Assembly approved in the third debate, this Thursday, the controversial bill 890, which modifies the norm that decentralizes public administration. It was endorsed without delay and without any deputy taking the floor to support its suitability or it’s inconvenience. This bill allows mayors and corregimiento representatives, who held public office before being elected in their communes, to choose the best salary. Article 1 of project 890 says, among other things, that they will enjoy unpaid leave to practice in their municipalities, and in cases where the assigned salary (in the mayor’s offices and community boards) is lower, they can opt for the one they had as well as servants of the state entity. However, they will be entitled to travel expenses, representation expenses, among others. For it to become a law of the Republic, President Laurentino Cortizo must sanction it and publish it in the Official Gazette

The National Police published a video of the moment of the capture of one of the suspects in the assault on the Savings Bank last Tuesday. The arrest occurred in the early hours of Wednesday, in the El Colmenar sector in San Miguelito, an area considered a red zone by security authorities. Dozens of agents in trucks arrived after having information that one of the possible assailants was hiding in one of the houses. A drone flew over the zinc roofs of the houses, while the agents of the special units walked the narrow paths with a hurried step and with weapons in hand. Other agents of the investigation unit checked the patios of the houses in the darkness. The director of the institution, John Dornheim, arrived on the scene. At about 3:00 a.m. They captured the suspect. In addition, they seized $3,978 dollars, $1,500 Mexican pesos and clothing, said Dornheim.

The preliminary hearing of the Odebrecht case ended on Wednesday with the announcement by Judge Baloísa Marquínez that she would accept the term allowed by law (30 days) to decide whether or not to call the 50 involved to trial. In the hearing, which lasted 13 days, the Public Ministry (MP) exposed the complex plot used to distribute bribes, which involved companies, officials, politicians, figureheads, lawyers and banks, among others. In turn, the lawyers of the defendants – for the alleged commission of the crime of money laundering – based their defense, mainly, on three aspects: the statute of limitations of the punishable act, the evaluation of the MP’s evidence, and political persecution. Known strategies to avoid justice also came to light: the principle of specialty in the case of former President Ricardo Martinelli and the alleged immunity of the Central American Parliament enjoyed by him and also by former President Juan Carlos Varela. At the end of the hearing, the prosecution refuted 14 of the 15 incidents presented by the defenders and asked the judge to dismiss them. Considered the most emblematic corruption process in recent times, the Odebrecht case closed an important stage on Wednesday: the preliminary hearing, in which the Public Ministry presented its theory and the defenders of the accused presented their arguments. Sitting in front of a desk and guarded by the Panamanian flag, Judge Baloísa Marquínez listened to each of the parties in the 13 days that the hearing lasted. At the beginning of the procedure (September 12), appeals were dismissed; in the prosecution’s pleadings phase, she fined two defense attorneys who caused a distraction in the courtroom, and more than once called out others who tried to break the rules and harmony.

The Budget Commission of the National Assembly closed Wednesday, the period of budget hearings that began on August 17. The day passed with the presentation and support of the Ministry of Social Development (Mides), the Comptroller General of the Republic, the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) and the National Assembly itself. The head of Mides, María Inés Castillo, supported a recommended budget of $280.7 million. She said they requested $340.1 million, but $59.4 million was cut. In that sense, she indicated that she requires $16.1 million so that the Conditional Monetary Transfer programs are not affected. During her speech, she announced that of the 190,000 citizens who are in one of the Mides programs, at least 120,000 are part of the 120 to 65 program, for which they requested $180 million in 2023, but the MEF recommended $175.3 million. The turn continued for the comptroller Gerardo Solís , who supported a budget of $147.3 million. The funds, he said, are aimed at a plan that, among other things, seeks to modernize and strengthen government oversight and control, as well as optimize the administrative and operational structures of institutional management, among others. Solís, who was not questioned by any deputy, reported, without giving further details, that the Comptroller’s Office is currently carrying out 104 audits, that another 106 are in process and that 52 have already been completed. He did not provide further details. In turn, he reported that he has endorsed 682 thousand 597 documents. Regarding the population and housing census, he highlighted that it was restructured so that the State saves $10 million. Solis’ was the fastest lift yesterday. For his part, the Minister of the Presidency and Vice President of the Republic, José Gabriel Carrizo, summarized his administration, which, he stated, has been “saving.” He pointed out, for example, that for 2023 the sum established by the MEF is $213 million 548 thousand 373, of which $148 was recommended for operation. 8 million and for investment $64.8 million. Carrizo also assured that in comparison with the administrations of the two previous governments, in 36 months of management, President Laurentino Cortizo has spent $16.1 million from the discretionary item. Unlike other years, the Assembly did not support its budget overnight. Deputy Crispiano Adames arrived at the commission at 4:45 pm He indicated that they have executed 80% of the budget until last July, based on the $200.4 million of the 2022 budget. The Assembly requested $206.8 million, but the MEF recommended $150 million. Of those, $138.3 million will be for operation and $11.7 million for investment. He specified that there is a difference of $56.8 million between what was requested and what was recommended. However, Adames said that they welcome the adjustment set by the MEF, because they “understand” the situation. With the completion of the hearings, the commission must begin to prepare the adjustments that they will send to the Executive on the latest recommendations to the State budget for 2023, which amounts to $27,162.9 million.

About 20,000 young people between 18 and 30 years of age attended the call of the Ministry of Labor and Labor Development (Mitradel) in conjunction with private sector companies to apply for some 3,000 jobs from 50 companies.  For two days, the applicants went to the Vasco Núñez de Balboa Convention Center of the Hotel El Panamá to have contact with the companies interested in contracting the services. In addition to applicants residing in the capital city, young people from the central provinces who are looking for a job opportunity also attended. The “Expo Konzerta 2022”, as it was called, had the participation of companies dedicated to technology services, logistics, hotels, transportation, restaurants, sales and the commercial area. The interested parties, who had to bring several updated resumes, were interviewed by the recruitment team of the different participating companies. In addition to the face-to-face assistance, those who could not attend had the opportunity to enter the page where the vacancies of the participating companies appeared. “Our purpose is to facilitate labor intermediation, connecting human talent with the opportunities offered by the private sector in one place,” said the Deputy Minister of Labor and Labor Development, Roger Tejada. He added that it seeks to guarantee compliance with labor regulations in terms of hiring, as part of the framework cooperation agreement signed with the Konzerta placement agency, “so that no citizen is deceived or is a victim of fraudulent agencies that can take advantage of hiding the crime. of human trafficking”. For her part, Marcela Galindo, president of the Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, said that, at a time of transition for the Panamanian economy, ExpoKonzerta represents a new area that will help boost the economic growth of the country.

The plenary session of the National Assembly approved this Thursday in the third and final debate, Bill 379, which establishes the compulsory teaching of socio-emotional education at all levels of the Panamanian educational system. According to the project, school education should provide the tools so that young people know how to face conflict situations, violence, bullying, addiction and help prevent teenage pregnancies. “It is a great step in the education of our country. The most benefited from this initiative are children and young people, since in their schools they will be able to reinforce cognitive strategies, values ​​and skills for their lives, which allow them to live better with the environment”, said deputy Génesis Arjona, proponent of the initiative. . aFor the deputy, the project represents a big step at a time when students need that emotional support to channel their thoughts, act with emotional intelligence, since they spent practically two years away from the classroom and from contact with their classmates.

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