Monday 29th May 2023.

May 28, 2023


Chronic bureaucracy and the inefficiencies of state institutions are taking a heavy toll on Panama in terms of economic and human development. This was stated this Sunday, by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap), through its column La Cámara Opina .

According to the chamber, hundreds of companies -whether small, medium or large- as well as entrepreneurs see daily how their efforts and business initiatives are seriously affected due to these obstacles.

In many cases, they are even “ruined” as a result of the absence or malfunction of institutional systems, procedures and mechanisms, the Cciap pointed out.

“We have come to accept as normal that when it comes to procedures related to the State, there are unjustified delays, cost overruns in the processes, delays in payments and a series of situations that seriously harm business activity. However, this should not be the case,” said the organization, chaired by Adolfo Fábrega.

The Cciap indicated that the impacts of these inefficiencies are deep and lasting. And that due to the unjustified paperwork and delays, different entrepreneurs and businessmen (several of them members of this organization) have communicated their intention to stop producing or marketing some products and services due to their inability to overcome bureaucratic obstacles.

For these reasons, the business union demanded “a definitive cessation of these practices that cause so much damage to our country.”

After the first four days of the trial for money laundering linked to the purchase of Editora Panamá América SA (Epasa), in the so-called New Business case, the absence of defense witnesses has become a constant that has raised concerns about of the future of this case.

In particular, the absence of the two protected witnesses, whose summons corresponded to the Public Ministry, stands out. Judge Baloisa Martínez, in accordance with sound criticism, must decide if she gives a new opportunity for the appearance of these witnesses when all those cited have finished testifying. If she calls them back and they don’t show up, she can fine them $100 each.

In addition, it must be remembered that this process is carried out under the rules of the mixed inquisitive system, in which the file or summary already contains the vast majority of the evidence, including the statement of the protected witnesses. In other words, the judge already has a multiplicity of evidence in her hands.

The money laundering case linked to the purchase of the Editora Panama América SA (Epasa) , through the basket company New Business, a transaction for an amount of 43.9 million dollars, continues to advance in the judicial courts of Judge Baloisa Marquínez in Cerro Ancón.

In the development of the ordinary hearing, a series of legal questions have been expressed that it is important to clarify. The most relevant procedural aspect of this hearing is that it is carried out according to the rules of the mixed inquisitive system, contained in the third book of the Judicial Code. The second relevant aspect is that the criminal action submitted to the judicial debate is money laundering, a conduct with a penalty of 5 to 12 years in prison, and with a great particularity: the reversal of the burden of proof.

If the aforementioned procedural parameters are taken into account, it must be understood that in the mixed inquisitive system the evidence is presented from the first page of the file, while in the accusatory criminal system the evidence has to be taken at the hearing. As there is evidence in the New Business case that is already in the file, and with the burden of proof reversed, the burden of the hearing falls on the defense, which must prove what is necessary to obtain the acquittal of the accused.

The pre-candidates for various positions by free application have collected up until this Saturday, May 27, a total of one million 714 thousand 413 signatures throughout the country.

The Electoral Tribunal (TE) has described this figure as a record compared to the processes for past elections.

According to the TE report, the presidential candidates have collected 636,588 signatures. Meanwhile, the aspiring candidates for deputy have achieved 517 thousand 329; the pre-candidates for mayor a total of 268 thousand 680 and for representative, 291 thousand 816.

These pre-candidates, who began seeking signatures on August 15, 2022, will have until July 30 as the last day to deliver signatures to the TE.

The three pre-candidates that collect the most signatures, for any elective position, are the ones that will appear on the ballot for the 2024 elections.

The institution will recognize the three candidates for various positions on August 7.

The Authority for the Protection of Consumers and Defense of Competition (Acodeco) announced that this year it has received 27 complaints against private schools for alleged “tied” or conditional sales. Of these complaints, 15 resulted with anomalies, 10 without irregularities and 2 are in the process of investigation, the entity detailed, through a statement.

Some of the complaints filed have to do with the fact that the school would have forced the parent to buy only and exclusively textbooks and school uniforms on campus.

A consumer informed Acodeco −according to this institution− that in a private school parents are forced to buy a coat, the cost of which is $20 and which is only sold on campus. This consumer adds that students are not allowed to wear any coat other than that, which is detailed on the website of the private school.

“Faced with the act where a seller conditions the sale of a product or service to the purchase of another, a tied or conditioned sale is presented, for which the corresponding complaint must be filed with Acodeco,” the entity said in the statement.

The norm that refers to tied sales is described in article 36, numeral 15, of Law 45 of 2007, which dictates norms on consumer protection and defense of competition, and which establishes that the supplier must “refrain from carry out actions aimed at restricting the supply, circulation or distribution of goods or services, through hoarding or tied or conditioned sale, unless there is just cause”.

In this sense, Acodeco stressed that “educational centers, especially private ones, can recommend, but not demand specific brands, since the parent must have the power to decide what and where to buy.”

If you consider yourself affected by a tied or conditional sale, the entity recommends filing a complaint, which can be anonymous, but must detail the name and location of the economic agent, as well as a description of the offense.

Complaints can be made through the Institutional Information and Complaint System (Sindi) which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; through WhatsApp and Telegram at 6330-3333, the accounts of social networks and the website of the institution.

Five people who had in their possession a package of vials whose content is allegedly the drug Fentanyl, which was “lost” from the Social Security Fund (CSS), were apprehended on the afternoon of this Saturday, by judicial authorities.

The Public Ministry reported that the Drug Prosecutor’s Office together with the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, with the support of members of the National Police, carried out a raid in Pueblo Nuevo.

There they found vials as well as marijuana and chemical precursors.

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation into the loss of 19,000 vials of fentanyl in November 2022. However, to date the authorities had not been able to recover the drug, nor have charges been filed for its disappearance.

On March 16, they carried out an ocular inspection of the CSS Pharmacy department in search of evidence of the loss of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a drug 50 times more powerful than heroin and has unleashed a public health crisis in the United States due to the increase in deaths related to its illegal use.

A prevention notice for possible flooding in the Panamanian Pacific from May 27 to 29 was issued this Saturday by the National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc).

The areas that are under this advisory are Panama, West Panama, Chiriquí, southern Veraguas, Los Santos, Herrera, Coclé and Darién.

According to the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, given the possibility of rains coinciding with storms “together with the occurrence of swells, there is a greater risk of flooding in towns near rivers or low-lying areas of this region of the country,” this , due to the slow eviction of the waters at the river mouths.


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