Monday 12th September 2022.

September 12, 2022


The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) reiterated its willingness to discuss national problems, but advocating participation on equal terms. In its weekly letter to the country, the business association expressed that they have always presented proposals in the face of the weaknesses that they face as a nation. Likewise, that “it is willing to continue contributing, as long as the conditions are met for participation on equal terms, where the arguments of the parties are heard within the framework of respect, citizen freedoms are guaranteed and the common objective is to build a social agreement that leads to a Panama of opportunities for all”. The position of the Chamber of Commerce comes at a time when the unique dialogue for Panama, in which several measures have been approved, including economic ones, is in recess pending a pronouncement by the Catholic Church on the second phase which would include new participants. This unique table began its sessions in mid-July with the participation of three alliances of social groups, the government and the church as facilitator. This table was convened by the Executive after protests, road closures and paralysis of classes in the official sector. “In reaction to the situation, an incomplete dialogue table was established, where there was not the necessary representativeness to make decisions that would lead to the execution of effective actions that would really attend to and resolve popular demands,” the Cciap recalled. It is argued that the country has managed to build agreements through participatory and inclusive dialogue, always framed in respect for people and the dignity of the human being, seeking to reach constructive agreements that achieve common welfare. Since without these elements nothing productive can arise from any encounter.

In the districts of Tierras Altas and Renacimiento, in the province of Chiriquí, they are still working to recover from the aftermath left by the aftermath of hurricanes Eta and Iota, in November 2020. César Julio González, a resident of the Bambito area, remembers it as if it were just yesterday. “It took us all by surprise and the great current of the river almost swept us away, but I was able to save my life and that of my family. Although now every time it rains, there is tension, ”he pointed out. González, who lost his home, is on the list of people who are still waiting for the project promised by the Ministry of Housing and Territorial Planning (Miviot), to provide a solution to 116 affected families in the area. “We hope that these homes will be delivered to us soon, since almost two years have passed,” he remarked. In this context, the Miviot reported that an advance of 42% registers the Paso Ancho urbanization project, in the district of Tierras Altas. Yesica Vargas, coordinator of the Department of Engineering and Architecture of Miviot in Chiriquí, explained that they are doing cutting, shaping and laying of the base layer for the two main roads of the urbanization and they are advancing in the construction of sidewalks and the concrete for rainwater of the gutter system.. Where more progress has been made is in the repair of production roads. Augusto Jiménez, former president of the Association of the Producer Community of the Highlands, said that 70% of the 20 kilometers have been recovered. “80% of the agricultural products consumed in the province of Panama come from that area,” he stressed. Meanwhile, the representative of the district of Río Sereno, Zósimo Ponce, explained that, at least in his jurisdiction, about 15 kilometers of production roads have been improved. According to Ponce, when the area was affected by the effects of the hurricanes, there were landslides and collapses at 20 critical points on the roads, which were repaired. “Little by little, this important area of ​​the country is rising from the ashes,” said Ponce, who added that in the case of Río Sereno, the road improvement works were commissioned by the Ministry of Public Works to the company Ininco.

The investment budget of the Ministry of Education (Meduca) suffered a severe blow for 2023. At a time when the educational system requires better schools and resources for student learning, Meduca will receive $362.2 million less than the investment requested. The entity requested $570.8 million and they recommended $208.6 million. This was the central topic of discussion on Saturday at the follow-up table that resulted from the agreements to end the strike and that is made up of actors from the education sector. The main concern is that the cut affects funds for the construction, rehabilitation and equipment of schools, as well as for nutrition and health of the country’s students. The union leader Edy Pinto described as “irresponsible” that the necessary resources in education are not allocated. Aida Alfaro, director of the Foundation for the Promotion of Educational Excellence, stressed that although there is pressure on public spending at this time, the educational reality requires greater investment to promote the educational transformation that the country requires. Education, described by the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, as the “star” of his Government, continues to shine. One more example of this was seen during the appearance of the Minister of Education, Maruja Gorday de Villalobos, before the Budget Commission of the National Assembly. The initial budget for fiscal year 2023 presented by Gorday de Villalobos reached $2,381.5 million, of which $1,810.7 million were for operations and another $570.8 million were in the investment line, for the purpose of complying with the plans, programs and school activities and next year’s institutions. The aspirations of the Ministry of Education (Meduca) died there. Officials from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) recommended $1,635 million for operations and $208.6 million for investment in the budget for 2023. The allocation implies $537.9 million less than what Meduca needed. The matter had a greater impact on the investment line, since, as planned by Meduca, for 2023 $570.8 million were requested for preventive maintenance, construction and rehabilitation, equipping schools, the Educational Development project (Meduca-BID), nutrition, school health and basic education, among others. As the MEF recommended $208.6 million for investment, Meduca authorities were left with a budget gap of $362.2 million in that line. And that was precisely the central topic of discussion Saturday at the follow-up table formed as part of the agreements to end the strike last July, which is made up of the different actors in the education system. Teachers’ leader Edy Pinto stressed that this budget difference will be “catastrophic,” since it will have a direct impact on issues such as school repairs and the elimination of ranch classrooms in rural and indigenous communities. “It is a very unfortunate situation, since this cut of more than $500 million to Meduca will make it difficult to reach the goal of allocating 5.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) to education by 2023, as agreed to end the teachers’ strike in this year”.

No advance. Thus, Bill 531 remains on the legislative agenda, through which natural or legal persons who have been convicted of corruption or who have entered into collaboration or penalty agreements are “permanently” disqualified from contracting with the State. This, despite the fact that the proposal entered the agenda for the second debate in July 2021. It was in position 7 on the agenda until last Thursday. That day, they lowered it to point 10, without giving explanations. The proposal seeks to modify numerals 8 and 9 of article 19 of Law 22 of June 27, 2006, which establishes the legal incapacity to contract with the State. Numeral 8 says: “ In the case of natural or legal persons, having been sentenced, in the five years preceding the convocation of the public act, by final judicial sentence for the commission of crimes against the public administration, crimes against the economic order, crimes against collective security, crimes against economic assets and crimes against public faith, when they are natural persons with prison sentences of one or more years, by a Panamanian or foreign court. In these cases, the legal inability to contract will be extended for up to five years ”. Numeral 9 says: “ Whoever enters into judicial collaboration or penalty agreements, acknowledging the commission of crimes against the public administration, crimes against economic order, crimes against collective security, crimes against economic assets or crimes against public faith . In any case, the inability to contract will not extend more than three years . With the change, proposed by the independent deputy Gabriel Silva, the following would be added to the two numerals: ” in these cases or in any case, the legal inability to contract will be permanent . ” Silva has said that it is a necessary reform, since continuing to hire corrupt companies is a “practice that is harmful to the national interest, which prevents and discourages honest companies from participating in public procurement processes to offer a service or work with high quality standards, efficiency and competitiveness.

Panama celebrated twice in version No. 62 of the World Senior Golf Championship, held in Napa, California, at the Silvadero Resort & Spa, United States, by winning the team and individual categories. The Panamanian team, represented by the Association of Senior Amateur Golfers of Panama (AGSAP), achieved this feat beating representations from the United States, Colombia, Japan and the Philippines, among other countries. Roberto Monchi Vallarino, from AGSAP and the Panama Golf Association (Apagolf), highlighted the work of the team made up of Bob Askew, Gary Wilson, Gregorio Chuljak, Kevin Tynes, Kris Cuello and Ricardo Cardoze. “This team has accomplished a great feat, a great victory that leaves the name of Panama high,” he said. Cardoze was the individual champion of this world championship, in which players from 25 countries participated. For his part, Jean Pierre de Roux, president of Apagolf, highlighted the dedication and effort of this representation, which with both awards proves that Panamanian golf is going through one of its best moments. Cardoze took the honors by beating Japan’s Shoichi Satoh in the final match of a match play. By teams, the Panamanian representation prevailed with 465 hits, to win the tournament, followed by Japan and the United States, tied for second place with 482 hits, Brazil (490) and the Philippines (497). Panama had not won this cup since 2015.



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