Monday 4th September 2023.
September 3, 2023
The Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (RedLad) called on the Executive to withdraw from the National Assembly bill 1031 that seeks to repeal Law 6 of 2002 on Transparency, after considering it a “regression” to the access of information.
Once it does, RedLad indicated, it must promote a broad citizen, national and provincial consultation table, which includes the grassroots communities.
In a statement, the network stresses that the law should undoubtedly be reviewed, but not replaced as intended. He points out that it must be appropriate to the digital information age.
It indicates that this transparency law, a pioneer in the region, has served the Panamanian population for 21 years in the key stage of post-military dictatorship democratic consolidation.
“They intend, in effect, to replace the Transparency Law through its repeal, without broad and democratic citizen consultation, without reforms to the ANTAI law to guarantee its impartiality, without reforms to the personal data protection law so that it is not used for hide information of a public nature and they do it in the middle of the electoral process, eight months before the general elections of May 2024”, adds RedLad.
Multiple citizens and non-governmental organizations, representing various sectors, are raising “the alarm” at this unconsulted bill, he adds.
RedLad highlights some of the setbacks from Bill 1031:
– Exempts officials and heads of office from individual responsibility for the delivery of information, in addition to the elimination of almost all sanctions for non-compliance, through a new bureaucratic structure of transparency in each public entity, which will imply more appointments in the state payroll, centralization and bureaucratization, deteriorating a petition process that today is direct, simple and decentralized.
– This decrease in the responsibility of officials brought by project 1031 also impacts the effectiveness of two articles of the personal data protection law that prioritize the public interest and accountability over the use of public funds when the information must be delivered by officials due to their public obligations. It will help to shield even more information of a public nature that today is hidden under a wrong interpretation of the law, such as the scandalous case of the “financial aid” granted by the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources to benefit relatives of political figures. and public servants.
– Eliminates the power of the courts that know the actions of Habeas Data, since the entire sanctioning regime disappears when there is contempt of the orders of Habeas Data issued by the Judicial Branch. The blow to the judicial function is not limited to this, since the project establishes ANTAI as the governing and guarantor institution, with new powers to administratively resolve non-compliance, information that can be declared restricted or confidential access and other instances that require impartiality and independence, and that will force the petitioner to exhaust this administrative route, before the Habeas Data, in what would constitute an authentic usurpation of judicial competence, by a political entity completely dependent on the Executive Branch.
– The reservation of information in process of all types of processes and responsible authorities is extended to all State institutions, and its opening is eliminated once they are executed.
– Opens the door for the use of the transparency law as an instrument of harassment, harassment and persecution of organizations, associations, unions and others who criticize or question government decisions, especially those linked to accountability and transparency, including them as obligated subjects with a general rule that does not establish limitations due to their status as private legal persons.
– The legal labyrinth created by this bill, added to the discretion of the new guarantor body, generates a scenario of guaranteed impunity for officials who choose the path of opacity, with the consequent impact on a decrease in accountability and an increase in the hidden mechanisms of corruption.
The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) highlighted this Sunday that the recently announced results resulting from investment in international tourism promotion come as “encouragement, oxygen to optimism in tourism investment” and a “clear indication of that things can be done differently”. This, after several years the country’s tourism potential remained limited by the institutional weakness of the sector, as a result of the lack of planning, dispersed investment and little coordination with the private sector, highlighted the union.
He highlighted that according to the efforts led by the Panama Tourism Promotion Fund (Promtur Panama) and the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP), the international tourism promotion of Panama has generated an estimated economic impact of $902 million from January to June of 2023.
These results, adds the Cciap, show a significant increase in trips from priority markets and a significant extension in the length of stay of tourists in Panama. This flow has been driven by the nine priority source markets: the United States, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Argentina, Spain, France and Germany, which generated the highest volume of tourist arrivals by air. That is, 58.7% more compared to 41.3% in other markets.
Another important indicator of tourist activity, highlights the business association, is the stay of tourists from these countries, which has increased from 8 to 10.9 days.
On the other hand, the tourism industry shows more and more signs of recovery, says the Cciap.
From January to April 2023, for example, 98% of the levels registered in 2019 were recovered. This, according to figures from the Panama Tourism Authority.
The source markets with the best performance have been the United States and Argentina, which have exceeded the values of 2019. Based on current behavior, Promtur estimates a 105% recovery in the arrival of tourists at the end of the year (2023 versus 2019), through all ports.
“Beyond these very good results, what we are seeing today are the fruits of management continuity, better government-private sector coordination, and the professionalization of our international tourism promotion. In addition, an agreed strategy to strengthen a unified international tourism brand that is consistently promoted at the local level. It is vital to understand that the way forward is to continue the investment made and never return to inexplicable decisions with which at the time resources were cut for the promotion of tourism in Panama,” says the Chamber of Commerce.
“In a broader context, these results in tourism also indicate that when institutions are respected and public management is depoliticized, the results are good for everyone,” he adds.
The sailings to the tourist Isla de Taboga were suspended this Sunday, September 3, due to the fact that its main pier suffered damage from the waves that have been recorded since early hours.
This was confirmed by the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) in a statement, in which it explains that due to the maximum tides, part of the dock was affected so that the boats cannot reach it.
The pier was temporarily closed. AMP personnel assess the damage to proceed with the repairs.
At the moment, the National Civil Protection System maintains a prevention notice until Tuesday, September 5 in the Panamanian Pacific for tides that will reach a maximum of 18.3 feet in height.
The National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc) reported that in the province of Colón, 51 homes and 128 people were affected, in different sectors, while some 12 trees fell on roads in Los Santos, as a result of the rains and strong winds.
In Colón, flooding was reported in various sectors such as Puerto Escondido 2 and 4, Cristóbal and Cativá. The water rose to a meter in height in the houses.
In the city of Colón, the Old Town was flooded by the heavy downpour that fell since the early hours of this Saturday.
Similarly, it was reported that several trees fell in some sectors and that a perimeter wall of a store in El Renacimiento de Cristóbal collapsed.
On the other hand, the detachment of the roof of a house, flooding in the Sapotosa de Tonosi area and the fall of at least 12 trees was the balance left this Saturday by the rains, accompanied by strong winds, in Los Santos.
Sinaproc reported more than eight trees down on the road that connects Las Tablas with Pedasí. The fall of a tree was also reported on the road that leads to Guánico and floods were treated in different areas of Tonosí.
In the province of Panama, a family isolated by flooding was reported in sector 5 of Las Margaritas de Chepo. An older adult and two minors were rescued by residents of the sector.
In Coclé, Sinaproc reported that it maintains personnel at Farallón beach (Antón), where several houses were affected by strong waves. Three residences were evacuated due to damage to their structures.