Friday 31st May 2024.

May 30, 2024


The president-elect, José Raúl Mulino, sent a message this Thursday morning, upon leaving meetings with mayors and deputies of the independent Vamos group: “Let us be clear that there will be no parallel decentralization. “That has been shameless and there is a lot of plant there to rescue.”

This was the response that Mulino gave to questions from journalists who asked him about his position regarding the allocation of million-dollar funds to community boards controlled by members of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

I had previously spoken with the newly elected mayors, precisely regarding the equitable distribution of funds to local governments.

Despite the multiple scandals over the millionaire disbursements of parallel decentralization in the community boards and municipalities of Panama, according to the comptroller, Gerardo Solís, there was no waste, mismanagement of funds, administrative disorder or signs of corruption.

The government of Laurentino Cortizo, with two directors in the National Decentralization Authority (AND) at the helm, Francisco Vigil (July 2019-April 2022) and Edward Mosley Ibarra (April 2022 to present), challenged the norm of allocation of resources and increased the budgets of local governments that coincide with the fiefdoms of deputies from the until now ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and other deputies allied to this administration.

La Prensa accessed more than 3,000 records from the Comptroller General of the Republic – with its control number (Scafid), amount and destination, among other data – which show that the AND distributed funds in three years – from 2021 to 2023 – to 473 community boards outside the legal procedure.

Read here : During campaign times, Government diverts $119 million from decentralization to PRD community boards

Between June 7, 2021 and May 8, 2023, $242.9 million was distributed, and between May 9 and June 23, another additional $18 million was disbursed.

The AND budget for 2024 will be $232.7 million, less than that assigned for 2023, when 353 million were granted, which represents a difference of $121 million.

The elected president , José Raúl Mulino , questioned the call made by the board of directors of the Social Security Fund (CSS) for the selection of the new general director of the entity for the period between 2024 and 2029.

“I am not going to accept suggestions of names or shortlists resulting from a board of directors that has been completely defeated or questioned at the national level,” the next president stressed during a meeting with elected deputies this Thursday.

In fact, Mulino recalled that several members of the board of directors had expired several years ago.

La Prensa has been reporting that several members of the board of directors have expired and continue making decisions within the entity. Some of them are: Miguel Ángel Edwards and his deputy Griselda Valencia; Gregorio Guerrel and Héctor Hurtado, (main and substitute); and the duo of Guillermo Puga and Eric Bonilla. All, representing unions that bring together workers.

Even members of the board of directors such as Camilo Valdés agree that it is not prudent for this application period to begin. “I think we should wait for the president-elect to take office,” he said.

In Valdés’ opinion, there are several members of the CSS board of directors whose term has expired, so it is not advisable for them to start this process either.

According to the call from the board of directors, published in a local media last Wednesday, interested parties must present their documentation to the General Secretariat of the CSS between June 3 and 21. These documents must be authenticated before a notary public, except those that, due to their nature, do not require it.

One of the main challenges of the president-elect is to choose a person who can face the crisis of the entity, a consequence of the low collection of the worker-employer quota with which the pensions are financed.

The problem is such that the new administrator of the country will have to face a bankruptcy program and real actuarial debts of the CSS between $65 billion and $75 billion, which would be what would have to be paid to current and future pensioners between now and 2079. that are part of the exclusively defined benefit subsystem, according to the figures shared by the CSS Actuarial Technical Board.

The elected Panamanian president, José Raúl Mulino , spoke this Thursday about the challenges , mainly against the country’s elected deputies , a controversy that has marked the political agenda in recent days.

The next president hopes that the Electoral Tribunal (TE) will define all challenges before July 1, because he would like to have, as president-elect, a complete National Assembly as of July 1.

“I have conveyed that sincere message to the Electoral Tribunal: as far as I am concerned, all [deputies] must be seated in their seats as of July 1,” he said.

Public figures such as Eduardo Valdés Escoffery , TE magistrate, recognize that “this is the first time that there is such a high number of contested deputies” after the general elections.

According to a list of defendants provided this Wednesday by the TE, the number of defendants reaches 21.

In Mulino’s opinion, challenging is a problem for each person, but he agrees that those who sue have to pay.

“Whoever challenged has to pay, and I think that is very fair, because whoever is going to torpedo an election from the point of view of a challenge must assume the consequences if what they do is reckless,” he pointed out.

Several of these demands reach independent deputies of the Vamos coalition, a faction that obtained 19 seats in the last tournament and that defeated the proposals of the traditional parties.

The elected president of Panama, José Raúl Mulino , met this Thursday morning, May 30, 2024 with elected deputies from the independent Vamos group. The current deputy and leader of the Vamos Coalition, Juan Diego Vásquez, participated in the meeting.

“The idea of ​​this is to talk, listen to what they want, what they think, what they aspire to, and above all to see where we can find coincidences, which I am sure will be many,” said the president-elect, who will take inauguration on July 1st.

Mulino, who triumphed in the last elections on May 5 with the flag of the Realizing Goals and Alliance parties, stated that “I am not in this to buy or rent deputies, that is an issue that I want to make very clear.”

Mulino also said that under his command “what is there for me is over,” the famous phrase institutionalized by the representative Yanibel Ábrego, of the Democratic Change party. “Here is a president who is not going to allow himself to be extorted,” she emphasized.

He added that he will have a “sincere” approach with all legislative groups, so that they know that there is an Executive that is willing to support those “good” projects, from the point of view of the general budget of the Nation.

“If they want to get the applause, let them get it […] in the end they made some promise in their circuit to be able to be elected,” he stated. He also promised meetings with the country’s mayors. “I believe a lot in popular power,” he commented.

The challenge presented against the proclamation of Benicio Robinson , elected representative of Bocas del Toro, was rejected.

The Third Electoral Court made the decision after analyzing the appeal presented by former Panamanian candidate Ubaldo Vallejos . He considered it inadmissible.

Vallejos challenged Robinson – current president of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) – after alleging several reasons: exceeding the limit on campaign expenses, gifts and other violations of the Electoral Code .

The former candidate, who had to post a $25,000 bond, plans to file an appeal.

Inversiones Encanto, SA , a company that operated the now defunct Justo & Bueno store chain in Panama , will not be able to use (at least for the moment) the tax credit of $20.2 million that the Tax Administrative Tribunal (TAT) had recognized last February.

The Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) has ordered the temporary suspension of the TAT resolution that recognized the tax credit for an alleged carryover of losses alleged by Inversiones Encanto, a decision that was opposed by the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI) for consider it “unjustified”.

The decision was adopted unanimously by judges Carlos Vásquez (rapporteur), María Cristina Chen Stanziola and Cecilio Cedalise , of the Third Chamber of Administrative Litigation, who allege that the decision of the TAT “could lead to possible serious economic injuries to the tax administration “, according to a statement from the CSJ released on the night of this Wednesday, May 29.

Two weeks ago, the DGI filed two legal actions (a protection of constitutional guarantees and a contentious administrative claim for annulment ) against the TAT resolution of last February 26, which ordered the DGI to recognize a tax credit of $20.2 million to Inversiones Encanto for an alleged carryover of losses in the fiscal periods from 2016 to 2020. In addition, the court authorized the transfer of the same to the company Quantex Management Corp.

The magistrates of the Third Chamber opined that by ordering the DGI to credit the sum of $20.2 million for the benefit of two companies, “there is a serious disturbance to the general interest, since the high amount recognized to taxpayers could seriously affect tax revenues.” and the fiscal interests of the Panamanian State.”

The ruling of Vásquez, Chen and Cedalise specifies that the provisional suspension measure is due to “prima facie” compliance with the requirements demanded by both the law and jurisprudence, which have been verified from the evidentiary elements provided so far by the DGI, “that seem to demonstrate that the act in question is surrounded by certain elements that could affect its legality.”

The Third Chamber has yet to issue a final decision on the DGI’s demands.

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