Monday 8th January 2024.

January 7, 2024


“The planning and construction of water reservoirs has been a pending task of the State for decades, essential both to guarantee and provide drinking water to the entire population, and for the operation of the Canal.”

This was reiterated by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) in the Sunday column of this January 7, 2023, through which it calls to guarantee the future of the country through water.

The business union, chaired by Adolfo Fábrega, emphasized the fact that the current water crisis – aggravated by the El Niño phenomenon – urges action with “urgency and vision for the future.”

For this reason, the Cciap expressed that “it is urgent that the National Government adopts medium-term measures, such as the construction of reservoirs in the Indio River basin, to safeguard the operation of the Canal and ensure supply in vulnerable regions.” Precisely the project to build a reservoir on the Indio River arises from the need to obtain more water to guarantee the passage of ships through the Panamanian waterway and for the consumption of the population, however, the issue has not yet been discussed by the Cabinet Council.

On the other hand, the Cciap expressed that “the reality is clear” and that the complete reorganization of the Institute of National Aqueducts and Sewers (Idaan) is imperative, due – according to the text of the Opina Chamber – to the inefficient operation, the irresponsible waste and the alarming default that said institution faces.

“We cannot allow administrative inefficiency to hinder access to drinking water for more than half a million compatriots,” stressed the organization, which considers it “unacceptable” that in a country with high rainfall and where there are resources to address the problem There are citizens who lack access to drinking water, while others waste it without significant consequences. “It’s time for tangible repercussions,” she said.

Specialists from the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama have reported that the El Niño forecast is that it will last until June of this year, affecting the arrival of the rainy season and the country’s water sources.

The former governor of the province of Coclé, Richard Fifer , was transferred this Sunday morning, January 7, 2024 to a detention center in Panama City, after being arrested yesterday, Saturday, in the Paso Canoas area by agents of the National Border Service (Senafront), in collaboration with the Costa Rican Police.

Judicial sources confirmed that Fifer’s transfer began on Sunday morning to a detention center in Panama City, which was not specified, to later be placed at the disposal of the Directorate of the Penitentiary System and thus serve a sentence of 120 months in prison for the crime of aggravated fraud against the company Red Dragon Capital Management.

Fifer’s capture occurred 50 kilometers from the Costa Rican side at a police checkpoint, when he was driving an Audi-type car in which three other people were traveling.

At the time of his arrest, the former governor of the province of Coclé presented a US passport and objected to being verified by the Panamanian authorities, arguing that he was a citizen of the United States, it was announced at a press conference held this Sunday at the Province of chiriqui.

During the review carried out by the Costa Rican authorities, it was detected that Fifer’s passport did not have the Panama exit stamp, so he was sent to the Panamanian authorities.

The latter detected that there was an arrest warrant against them for a conviction related to the crime of fraud.

In addition, Fifer must face a trial on January 24 for the crime of evasion of payment of worker-employer fees.

Despite the fact that many deputies say they listen to “the voice of the people”, a recurring citizen cry has not yet materialized: the modifications to the Organic Regulations of the Internal Regime of the National Assembly (recorded in Law 49 of December 4, 1984) , to make legislative management transparent and eliminate benefits.

Citizens have asked to modify the regulation due to the multiple privileges that deputies have, who, among other things, can import two vehicles without paying taxes, have diplomatic passports, can take leave (with or without pay) and even be absent from office. the seat without any salary discount being applied.

However, the deputies have managed to avoid the debate. In this last legislative period, the president of the National Assembly, PRD member Jaime Vargas, has not even referred to that issue. He did not mention it in his opening speech to ordinary sessions on January 2. Not even during the last period, which he also led, did he show signs that he will promote the discussion of Bill 96, which has been on the agenda of the plenary session for two years, waiting to receive a second debate. Until last Thursday, January 4, it was at item 61 on the agenda. Vargas simply said that in the coming months the legislative agenda will focus on promoting laws that promote social and economic development, strengthening “stability” and “peace” in Panama.

All presidents in one way or another have used the changes to the organic regulations as a flag to start their administration, with the favor of the citizens.

During 2020, when the president of the Legislature was the PRD member Marcos Castillero, one of the promises he made was to modify Law 49 of 1984. He himself presented a bill in this regard. Other deputies also presented their own projects and all the initiatives were accumulated in project 96. Some proposed eliminating the prerogatives of the deputies; others demanded the disclosure of secret payrolls, deducting salaries from paviolo deputies, limiting the time on leave, creating new commissions, etc.

But Castillero’s management ended without endorsing the changes. On April 28, 2020, the deputies of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) stopped the discussion citing the need for “consensus” and “agreements” before moving forward with the debate on the issue, so it was agreed to postpone it to the next period. legislative.

The issue was taken up again during the administration of PRD member Crispiano Adames. The project was approved in the first debate in the Committee on Credentials, Regulations, Parliamentary Ethics and Judicial Affairs, which at that time was chaired by PRD member Leandro Ávila. It was done at the insistence of members of the independent bench and citizen complaints.

For this reason, a citizen consultation was opened and on September 29, 2021, after being approved in the first debate, the project was presented to the plenary session to be included in the agenda for the second and third debate.

Why is project 96 not discussed? It is the majority bench of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), which controls the Legislature, that must once again trigger the debate on Bill 96.

Leaving aside this issue is, for some leaders of civil society and even the Legislature, a “shame”, since there is no clear commitment to transparency.

Carlos Lee, of the Citizen Alliance for Justice, stated that the National Assembly is controlled by deputies and parties that do not have a clear commitment to transparency and accountability. He recalled that changing the regulations arose as an initiative of the independent bench, which echoed the clamor of the citizenry, demanding change.

The Social Security Fund (CSS) announced that an “incidence command” is being installed in the entity, given the increase in cases of covid-19 in Panama.

And week #52, which runs from December 24 to 30, 2023, was the week with the highest positivity rate for covid-19 that has been recorded in the last three years, with a rate of 35.9%, according to the latest report released by the Ministry of Health (Minsa).

The number of cases that week was 2,234, which translates into 1,053,318 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Given this panorama, the CSS indicated that it develops logistics in all its facilities, including the creation of an Incident command, the acquisition of hospital beds, the provision of medicines and supplies and the reinforcement of health personnel.

Enrique Lau Cortés, general director of the CSS, said that they seek to ensure that doctors “have the medicines they will need and the supplies that will be used.”

Through a statement, the Fund also indicated that the capacity of the intensive care units, the number of hospitalization rooms, the special respiratory care unit, mechanical ventilation equipment, monitors, non-invasive ventilation, fans and infrastructure.

“We are moving from the [Arnulfo Arias Madrid] Hospital Complex all the services that were already destined to go to the City of Health and with that we will have more beds for patients with covid-19, just like in the Pediatric Specialties Hospital “added Lau Cortés.

In recent days, the Vice Minister of Health, Ivette Berrío, confirmed that the arrival of the updated vaccine against covid-19 is being managed during this month of January. Berrío said that the vaccine technical team is holding conversations with the pharmaceutical company to determine the number of doses that will be arriving in the isthmus. “These vaccines have a positive effect, because they improve resistance to infections and prevent people from becoming depressed with severe Covid-19,” indicated the general director of Social Security.

Washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based gel, and cleaning or disinfecting objects and surfaces that are frequently touched are among the recommendations of health authorities to prevent covid-19.

The Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama (Imhpa) issued several surveillance notices this Sunday, which will last until January 9. High ultraviolet radiation indices.  Waves and winds in the Panamanian Caribbean. Windy conditions in various areas of the country (Panama, Colón, Panama Oeste, Coclé, Herrera, Veraguas, among others). “The atmospheric systems are producing strong winds over the Caribbean Sea, causing the increase and intensification of the waves over the maritime regions of the Panamanian Caribbean, generating the ‘Choppy Sea’ scenario and a greater presence of surf in beach areas,” said the National Civil Protection System in a statement.

For emergency reports, lines 520-4429 / 911 / 6998-4809 are available.


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