Monday 3rd July 2023.

July 2, 2023


Jaime Vargas Centella, the new president of the National Assembly, asked his colleagues to put a stop to “sterile struggles” and “empty discussions,” and urged them to “work harmoniously” with the other two state bodies.

This 54-year-old PRD member, who will head the Legislature in the middle of the pre-election year, also pointed out that his presidency will not be an obstacle to strengthening democracy and that he will be respectful of the model of economic development and justice that has allowed sustainable growth for the last 30 years.

“You as representatives, our mayors and our corregimiento representatives are clear about what our people need and only effective coordination with the Executive will be able to find the solutions we need,” said the Darién politician, who is not known for a single bill so far in the 2019-2024 five-year period.

Vargas, who became head of the Assembly with 51 votes (including 35 from the entire PRD bench), assured that the strengthening of local governments will be a “priority” of his presidency, “since countries with great economic development are those with strong local governments.”

However, he did not mention the more than $242 million that the National Decentralization Authority (AND) has allocated to local governments controlled mainly by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), from March 2021 to date, regardless of the mechanism provided by the Law 37 of 2009.

The new president of the Assembly, who replaced his fellow party member Crispiano Adames, mentioned that he will focus his management on improving the legislation of the Public Services Authority so that it “puts electricity distribution companies in their place.” He also spoke about access to drinking water and promised that he would boost the agricultural sector, but he did not say how.

In the list of his priorities he included the project that provides for the extinction of the domain of illegal assets (which did not obtain the necessary votes in the last legislature), the legal contract between the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (Mici) and Minera Panamá and the legislation necessary to remove Panama from all sanctioning lists on issues of tax evasion and money laundering.

He did not mention one of the great debts that the Assembly has with the citizenry: the reform of its internal regulations. There were once at least two bills in this regard; Now, only the independent bench talks about it.

After multiple questions about the diversion of funds carried out by the National Decentralization Authority (AND) and after the Accounts Prosecutor’s Office ordered it to carry out an audit, Comptroller General Gerardo Solís announced this Saturday, that he requested the 679 community boards of the country to give a rendering of accounts.

He explained that the one in charge of receiving the reports is the national sub-directorate of accountability, an office created in 2020. He added that the boards must submit a report on the “management of public funds that they have received as a result of the legal transfer, within the margin of the law”.

“If we find defects in illicit and intentional acts that may imply a patrimonial injury, then it is passed at that moment to a general audit, or forensic audit, to go into depth and determine if there is any patrimonial injury and in that case, then it is sent to the corresponding authorities”, either the Court of Accounts or the Public Ministry, he remarked.

Solís added that the Comptroller’s Office is a technical entity, which is managed with processes, procedures and methods that must be followed “with patience”.

It is the first time that Solís – a former militant of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) who was even once nominated for Vice President of the Republic by that party – refers to the issue of parallel decentralization.

The Supervisory Commission of the Panama Savings Fund (FAP), a representative body of civil society in the fund’s corporate governance structure, demanded that the Government comply with Law 51 of 2018 and that the instructions be executed “without delay”. Pertinent for the transfer to the FAP of the contributions of $970.2 million , corresponding to the contributions made by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to the National Treasury in the period 2018-2022.

The FAP was created by law in 2012 as heir to the Development Trust Fund. In 2018, the norm that regulates the fund was modified to allow higher levels of savings from the contributions delivered by the Panama Canal to the State.

The accumulation rule states that for the years 2018 and 2019, half of the contributions made by the ACP to the National Treasury that is greater than 2.5% of the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of the current year would be allocated to the FAP’s assets. From 2020 onwards, the contribution would be half the amount that exceeds 2.25% of GDP.

According to the norm, “this surplus will be transferred in the fiscal period following the publication of the GDP by the Comptroller General of the Republic”, something that has not happened.

The FAP Supervisory Commission raised the tone of the demand with the Government regarding previous reports, to warn about the importance of compliance with the law: “Panama is a country of laws, which must enforce and strengthen the Rule of Law. The MEF is obliged to comply with the contribution rule promulgated in Law 38 of 2012 and Law 51 of 2018, which it has not done since 2018″, indicates the Opinion Report of the Supervisory Commission for the validity of 2022, published recently.

A total of $30 million in cash has been seized in the last four years by public security forces in operations against organized crime.

The Ministry of Public Security reported that some 467 tons of drugs were also seized, as well as goods and properties linked to drug trafficking.

In its report, the entity indicated that this seizure represents 45% of the drugs seized from 2009 to date, a period in which 1,024 tons of drugs have been seized.

In the same way, the Public Force has confiscated a little more than 10,200 firearms and has destroyed some 34,000

The provinces with the highest records of seized weapons are Panama, Panama West, Colón and Chiriquí, the ministry said in a statement.

Four children, between the ages of 3 and 8, after days missing, were found lifeless on Saturday night. Their bodies (bones), one next to the other, were found in an area of difficult access, in the community of Arionte, corregimiento of Río Chiriquí, Kusapín district, Ngäbe Buglé region.

This was confirmed by Lucy Córdoba, defender of children’s rights, who explained that along with the bones of the children, the father of the victims was also found dead, in a state of decomposition. It is presumed that he took his own life.

Through the Twitter account, the Public Ministry reported that personnel from the Bocas del Toro Regional Prosecutor’s Office were going to the Río Chiriquí area to verify the existence of the bones in that sector and to initiate investigations for crimes against life and integrity.

According to preliminary reports, the father murdered his four children and later took his own life. Everything points to a case of vicarious violence, whose purpose was to cause harm to the woman, the mother of his children, said Córdoba.

“I have no words… it hurts too much,” she said, while once again demanding a “stop to violence.”

Neighbors indicate that it could be due to an inter-family dispute, since the mother of the children left the house for reasons that are not yet clarified.

“After talking with relatives, they inform us that the father sent the older boy, eight years old, to look for the mother, but the boy warned his mother that his father was sharpening a knife and possibly wanted to kill her. Due to such fear the mother did not return explained Córdoba.

The Panamanian team has played good football, it has been superior, it has two victories, and it is classified to the next round of the Gold Cup, but it still has some points to rectify.

Among the things to improve are the efficiency of the forwards attacking the goal and the lack of defensive concentration in the last minutes, which has meant goals from Costa Rica and Martinique.

Thomas Christiansen saw it in the front row, when Karl Fabien took advantage of a lack of attention inside the area to score at minute 90+3.

“It’s clear what happened to the conceded goal at the end, even if we’re down a man, it can’t happen,” said Christiansen, who doesn’t accept these types of mistakes on the pitch.

“The concentration has to be there for the full 90 minutes and added time. We have to keep learning from our mistakes, but hey, we won, which was the important thing,” he added.

Christiansen also highlighted the performance of wingers Erick Davis and Michael Amir Murillo, as well as the leadership of Aníbal Godoy.

“(Godoy) He has played all the games, he is still the captain. A leader on and off the field. He brings us a lot of experience, ”said Christiansen, who spoke about Murillo’s injury. “He felt a discomfort in the ‘hamstring’ and we are going to evaluate the progression”, he concluded.



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