Monday 31st July 2023.

July 30, 2023


On the morning of July 30, the Movimiento Otro Camino (Moca) ratified Ricardo Lombana as its presidential candidate for the 2024 general elections through a National Convention .

The meeting was held at the Megapolis Convention Center and nearly 300 party members and members of the National Directorate, participated.

The Electoral Tribunal (TE), in charge of supervising this political activity, announced the results of this vote at about noon this Sunday.

“I am a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic from today and I will be until May 5, 2024 when I become President of the Republic,” he said.

“It feels, it feels, Lombana president!” Shouted those present before their candidate’s speech.

“Thanks for being here. Thanks to the party, thanks to its people, thanks to each and every one of the Panamanians that we have come across in these almost 6 years of touring the country”, he said.

The candidate assured that as of today they begin a new stage for them and for politics. “A path that should lead us to the Presidency of the Republic, to rescue the State and its institutions,” he assured.

Lombana thus seeks to participate for the second time in the presidential elections. In 2019, he came in third place with 19% of the votes, after participating through free application.

With Lombana’s ratification, seven presidential candidates have been made official: Ricardo Martinelli, from Realizando Metas; Martín Torrijos, for the Popular Party; José Gabriel Carrizo, PRD; Rómulo Roux, from Cambio Democrático; José Blandón, Panameñista Party, and José Alberto Álvarez, from País.

At 5:00 pm yesterday, the period for collecting signatures by the pre-candidates for free application closes. A few hours before the conclusion of this electoral stage, it is already shaping up who will be in and out of the presidential race.

Only three will be recognized as candidates for the Presidency of the Republic through free application. Until now, that list is made up of Zulay Rodríguez, PRD deputy; Maribel Gordón, professor, and Melitón Arrocha, former Panamanian deputy.

The figures that will be out of that contest are: the lawyer Francisco Carreira, who at first was on the list of the three pre-candidates with the most signatures; the lawyer Eduardo Quirós, and the former Panamanian deputy Katleen Levy. Gerardo Barroso, former presidential candidate in 2019, is also left out for free application.

Carreira, who until this Sunday has 140,057 signatures, recently acknowledged that he would be out, but that he will continue in the Unity movement. He said that he is a “true independent.”

Quirós and Levy were still looking for signatures, but they are still far from, for example, Zulay Rodríguez, who has 175,687.

Quirós has 86,331 support signatures and Levy 55,060.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama stated this Sunday, that in the face of a “worrying increase” in spending on the state payroll, as reflected in the draft general budget of the State for 2024, an “exhaustive review” is required ”.

This, with the purpose of “optimizing the available resources”.

In its weekly statement, the business association estimates a 20% increase in operating expenses, which represents some $5.175 million between 2023 and 2024, in the midst of the electoral process.

“One of the main points in this area is the detailed analysis of the state payroll: reduce the number of unnecessary positions and eliminate duplication in the public administration,” they said.

“The data shows that during the years 2020 to 2023, payroll spending reached the worrying cumulative figure of 15.341 million dollars, which shows the need for an efficient approach in this area,” they added.

They also consider it “vital” to review the special laws that generate an increase in payroll spending, “without in most cases there being a performance evaluation that supports these increases.” During 2020 to 2023, B/. 2,532 million to this concept.

“This makes it essential that an evaluation be made of those laws that do not contribute to the development of society and that will allow the release of resources for investment as the only vehicle towards long-term prosperity,” he added.

In the opinion of the Chamber, it is “urgent” that this budget has relevant objectives such as Education. In addition, it must be structured in such a way that it significantly reduces operating expenses, increasing current savings and allocating resources to priority public investment.

Regarding the area of ​​Justice, the union points out, it is encouraging that the 2024 national budget contemplates 100% of the requested amount, $700 million, to guarantee the effectiveness of the programs and activities. “Given the current context of the fight against corruption and the search for justice in the country, it is essential that the budgets of the Judicial Branch and the Public Ministry are consistent with the importance of their functions and the expected results. The independence, security and quality of justice are essential to consolidate the Rule of Law, ensure the rights of all citizens, and a robust business environment”, he highlighted.

Another critical point, according to the private sector, that the Government must address, is compliance with the obligations of accounts payable to suppliers.

“The lack of agility in these processes negatively affects hundreds of companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, which dedicate significant resources to provide goods and services to the State,” he said.

Mangroves are an ecosystem that is disappearing three to five times faster than overall forest losses in the world, with severe ecological and socioeconomic impacts. Calculations by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization indicate that the extent of mangroves has been reduced by half in the last 40 years.

Currently in the world there are about 15 million hectares of mangroves.

Particularly in Panama, between 2010 and 2020, 9 thousand 17 hectares of mangroves have been lost, according to data from the Ministry of the Environment (Miambiente), as a consequence of the expansion of the agricultural frontier and the development of infrastructure for shrimp farming, the livestock and tourism. It is estimated that there are currently 183,800 hectares covered by mangroves in the country.

The entity’s estimates indicate that in the last 50 years more than half of the existing mangrove forests and wetlands have been cut down in the country.

Digna Barsallo, national head of the Directorate of Coasts and Seas of Miambiente, stated that most of the wetlands are not properly studied and their inventory must be updated.

The mangroves in Panama are affected by sewage, agrochemicals, solid waste, legal extraction of wood, carbon production, among others.

The use of mangroves to generate coal, for example, in the district of Chame in the province of Panama Oeste, is one of the problems that they are addressing; another is the garbage and the recent chemical spill in the Juan Díaz river, in Panama City.

In the particular case of the Juan Díaz river, Barsallo said that the investigation process is 90% complete and the entity is preparing a report on the impact.

The head of the Expanded Immunization Program (PAI), Itzel de Hewitt, stressed that more than 50,000 doses were applied nationwide during the hepatitis vaccination campaign, which began last Friday.

“Today we are continuing with the vaccination campaign that we have at the national level against hepatitis, yesterday was a very successful day where we applied more than 50,000 doses against this disease at the national level,” said Hewitt.

For this Saturday, it was planned to exceed 100,000 doses applied throughout the country, including vaccines against other diseases.

“This vaccination day is simultaneous at the national level in all the country’s shopping centers, health centers and in the places with the highest public concentration during the weekends,” she said.


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