Monday 28th August 2023.
August 27, 2023
At 12:00 noon today, the period for civil society to register to participate in the discussion in the first debate of the bill of the contract between the State and Minera Panama closes.
The Commerce Commission of the National Assembly reported that from 8:00 am to noon, all those interested can go to sign up on the list that is in the Carlos Titi Alvarado auditorium, on the fourth floor of the headquarters of the National Assembly. You can also send an email to the following address: email@example.com or call 512-8095.
Thus, the discussion of the mining contract begins. A contract that will allow in Panama a highly polluting activity affecting our environment. “Go to the Assembly and make sure that your voice is heard” Juan Diego Vásquez wrote on his networks.
According to the legislative agenda, the meeting of the Trade Commission is scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm, in the Carlos Titi Alvarado auditorium of the Legislative Palace.
In their first session, last Saturday, the commissioners agreed on the methodology to discuss this contract to regulate the extraction of copper in the district of Donoso, province of Colón.
It was approved that the deputies will have up to 30 minutes of intervention with the right to a second round with the same time. Meanwhile, civil society representatives will have up to 20 minutes to speak for or against the document.
The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) requested the National Assembly to postpone the discussion of bill 1031 that repeals Law 6 of 2002 , which dictates standards for transparency in public management and establishes the action of habeas data , among other provisions.
In a statement, the business union considered that reviewing a law and making changes to it should not be the subject of greater controversy, so, in principle, it is not opposed to it.
However, they maintains that limiting a discussion of this magnitude to a few, ignoring a wide and extensive citizen consultation, with an “inexplicable rush and the fact that we are in the middle of an electoral runup gives rise to worry and reject any attempt to modify without first exhausting and abiding by all possible queries”.
“Although we are relieved by the decision of the National Assembly to extend the consultation period in a scenario that allows greater participation and access to the discussion, we believe that the current political-electoral situation creates detrimental conditions for modifying such an important law,” it was stressed.
According to the Cciap, it is an opportune moment for the different presidential candidates to establish a position and speak to the electorate clearly about their possible actions on this issue.
“In any case, we will remain vigilant if, on the contrary, the final intention of reforming it is to benefit Juego vivo, politicking and opacity; which is totally contrary to the spirit with which this innovative law was promoted more than 20 years ago”, the Cciap highlighted.
The project was prepared by the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) and presented by the Minister of the Presidency, José Simpson, to the National Assembly on April 27, after its approval by the Cabinet Council.
From January to May 2023, the payment of $2,030 million in salaries to officials was recorded, which represents an increase of $38 million compared to the first five months of 2022.
To put into perspective what the accumulated spending on salaries this year represents, $2 billion could finance two hospital cities -with cost overruns- or a Metro line.
The State accumulated a payroll of 252,907 people at the end of May. When comparing the number of officials as of May 2023 in respect to May 2022, a decrease of 1,906 officials is observed, but the payments have increased.
The reason behind this is the automatic increase in salaries for certain positions, in accordance with the legal agreements drawn up in the past, although it may also be a reflection of the hiring of personnel that does not necessarily match all the positions left by eventual officials. but they earn more.
Economist Olmedo Estrada warns that the payroll is one of the many reflections of an unreliable spending policy, which does not prioritize and which can be risky, considering that revenue is not being obtained at the estimated pace. “How will we continue to finance so many expenses,” he ponders.
The first half of the year closed with negative numbers for the State in terms of income.
In the period between January and June 2023, the current cash income of the Central Government totaled $3,256 million, which reflects a deficit of $444.9 million compared to the current budget.
Even so, the expenses do not stop. The payroll increases and when additional income is obtained, such as the sale of land to the Canal, the central government uses the funds to meet current expenses.
This week, the Assembly approved a credit of $44.9 million that is financed with the sale of land to the Canal. The ministries of the Presidency and of Education and the Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers are among the institutions that requested extraordinary credits for the payment of services and works.
That same Assembly that approves the State budget and the transfers or allocations of extraordinary items, spends close to $7 million a month in paying the payroll, while there is no way for medical students to carry out the residency that grants them their suitability. , due to the lack of budget for the appointment as new health professionals. In this case, it is $13 million per year that is needed for the cost of medical residencies.
After a hearing that lasted two days, the guarantee judge of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama, Oris Medina, ordered the provisional detention of 11 people who allegedly belong to a criminal network dedicated to drug trafficking.
In addition, on the night of Saturday, August 26, several sentence agreements requested by five other detainees were validated.
On August 23, at least 16 people were captured in the Nilo operation carried out by the National Police and the Public Ministry in the provinces of Panama, Panama West and Darién.
The objective: to dismantle a criminal network dedicated to drug trafficking and money laundering.
Judge Medina, after listening to and analyzing the arguments of the lawyers and the prosecution, based her decision to apply the precautionary measure of provisional detention after considering it proportional to the nature of the act and the degree of involvement of each of the accused.
Lawyers for the detainees appealed. Now, the hearing will be held on September 4, at 8:30 am.
Regarding the agreements with 5 defendants, Judge Medina proceeded to issue the following convictions: three people were sentenced to 60 months in prison and as an accessory penalty she imposed a fine of $300.
Meanwhile, one of the defendants was sentenced to 68 months in prison. The fifth was sentenced to 75 months in prison.
A Judge of the Child and Adolescent Judicial Branch was provisionally detained in a penal center for the alleged commission of the crimes of harassment, lewd acts and gender violence.
This was determined by a guarantee judge after a hearing in the Criminal Accusatory System of the district of San Miguelito.
During the hearing, declared confidential, the judge considered that the precautionary measure imposed “is necessary and proportional given the nature and circumstances of the facts, coupled with the existing risks for the victims and their families.”
The official’s lawyer announced that he will appeal the measure. Therefore, the hearing to resolve this appeal was set for September 1 at 10:00 am in the Superior Court of Appeals, located in Plaza Fortuna.
According to the Judicial Branch, this fact originates from complaints filed in 2022, against the former official by junior personnel of the office in which he worked.
It was magistrate María Eugenia López Arias, president of the Supreme Court of Justice, who filed the criminal complaint before the Attorney General of the Nation, José Caraballo. This, after being informed by officials who were victims.
According to the forecasts of the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama (Imhpa), rains are expected in the country, as of yesterday especially in mountainous areas, due to the formation of tropical storm Idalia that this Sunday is located between the coasts from the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and the western tip of Cuba.
Meteorologist Emanuel Velásquez explained that the new storm presents abundant clouds and cyclonic wind flows, which induce certain weather conditions in Central America, “causing indirect effects in the region.”
For Panama, he indicated, this storm brings a “greater activation of the atmospheric systems” for the generation of downpours starting last night.
The entity issued a surveillance notice which will be in effect until midnight tonight.