Thursday 7th March 2024.

March 6, 2024


The Comptroller General of the Republic now has $24.3 million in addition to the $136.1 million that was assigned to it as a budget for 2024. The Budget Commission of the National Assembly approved an additional credit for this entity for $22.1 million , funds that will be used in operation and investments. In addition, he guaranteed transfers of items for $2.2 million.

Comptroller Gerardo Solís came this Wednesday, March 6, to support the millions in a debate that revolved mainly around the use of the entity’s money to pay for an event, travel expenses for the folklore group to travel to Ecuador, overtime payment to escorts and drivers, the hiring of temporary personnel and the purchase of buildings, among others.

The first 22.1 million will be used as follows: $14.7 million for operation and $7.4 million for investment, this last item includes the purchase of the building for the Government Control Academy, the acquisition of the Early Childhood Care Center establishment, the construction of the headquarters of the Chiriquí Comptroller’s Office and the purchase of computer equipment.

The only deputy who intervened was the independent Juan Diego Vásquez. He began by questioning the $400,000 that the Comptroller’s Office will spend on the XXXII Assembly of the Latin American Organization of Auditing Entities, an event that will be held in Panama.

“How does this benefit the country if there are schools that have not opened?” Vásquez questioned.

Solís answered that the Latin American Organization of Auditing Entities “is the highest organization in Latin America,” and is part of the community that ensures compliance with auditing, transparency and improvement standards for higher entities. “The Comptroller’s Office had distanced itself from these spaces. Since Panama is the headquarters of this organization, it is the most economical way to transfer knowledge,” he argued.

The deputy then asked about the $15,000 that will be used to pay travel expenses for the folklore group to attend a festival in Quito, Ecuador. “The folklore ensemble of the Comptroller’s Office is a national reference for our culture. This is to cover the expenses that are not covered when they are invited,” Solís argued.

Then, the debate focused on the $48,000 allocated for transportation within the country. Part of that budget also covers the expenses of the presentations that the folklore group makes in different provinces. Here, the comptroller asked that the cultural work of the Comptroller’s officials not be “minimized.”

The rector of the Autonomous University of Chiriquí (Unachi) , Etelvina Medianero de Bonagas, managed this Wednesday, March 6, to have the Budget Commission of the National Assembly approve a transfer of $1.5 million for renovations and maintenance.

According to the rector, she has been forced to go to that legislative body because the university suffered “a cut of 14 million dollars” in its 2024 budget.

Medianero de Bonagas explained that of the 1.5 million dollars, a total of 1.3 million dollars will be for seven “priority” projects for Unachi.

He mentioned the expansion of a sub-headquarters of that university, the construction of an auditorium, maintenance of the central campus, the construction of a science park and the construction of the Faculty of Medicine building.

Meanwhile, 236 thousand dollars will be for the payment of insurance to students and payment for the fumigation service.

Unachi, which in recent years has been in the eye of the storm due to complaints of alleged irregularities as well as the increase in salaries for teaching staff after an internal electoral campaign, was assigned $106 million for 2024.

The Commission, chaired by PRD deputy Raúl Pineda, approved the item. The only one who raised questions was the independent deputy Juan Diego Vásquez.

In 2022, the user account of an official from the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu) was used to make 7 thousand PIN number changes in the accounts of the beneficiaries of the Universal Educational Social Assistance Program ( PASS-U).

This is stated in an investigation by the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Intellectual Property .

Those PIN number changes were made even on non-business days.

It was also detected that, after the modifications were made, the accounts were used to make purchases in various local businesses.

It turned out that the two arrested people (the Ifarhu official and a merchant) will be brought before a judge of guarantees in the next few hours for the formulation of the accusation.

Both will be charged for the alleged commission of crimes against intellectual property, specifically that contained in article 226 of the Penal Code , which establishes that ” whoever, in order to obtain an illicit benefit for himself or a third party, alters, “modifies or manipulates programs, databases, networks or computer systems or by the person authorized to access them, or when the act is committed by the person using privileged information, will be punished with a sentence of five to eight years in prison. ” .

This is an investigation that began in 2022, after a complaint that was presented by Ifarhu himself, after detecting anomalies in the management of the PASE-U.

The Public Ministry maintains various complaints related to improper access and modification of data associated with the Cedulad platform .

The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office requested to suspend the electoral criminal jurisdiction of Bernardo Nando Meneses , former director of Ifarhu, so that he can be investigated for the handling of the financial aid provided by that entity.

Meneses acquired the jurisdiction because he is a candidate for deputy in Arraiján, for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).

A warning of unconstitutionality is the last legal resource tried by the former governor of Coclé , Richard Fifer , who seeks to stop a possible conviction for the crime of illegal withholding of contributions from the Social Security Fund (CSS) .

The appeal was presented by Julio Pinzón, Fifer’s lawyer, shortly before a trial court in the province of Coclé began its deliberations to determine the possible criminal responsibility of the former governor.

Given this scenario, judges Teófilo Ortiz, Mario Solís and Elsa Damaris Domínguez decided to suspend the issuance of their verdict until the Supreme Court examines the warning of unconstitutionality filed against article 2 of the Penal Code , referring to the crime of improper withholding of fees.

During the trial, which took place this week in Coclé, anti-corruption prosecutors Olmedo Gómez and Elvis Coronado asked the trial court to issue a conviction against Fifer for the illegal withholding of quotas from the end of 2013 to January 2015, through the companies Petaquilla Gold and Panamá Desarrollo e Infraestructura , of which he was legal representative

Also the private accuser Hildaura Cáceres , representing the CSS, requested the conviction of the former governor.

Fifer remains detained in the Tinajitas prison , where he is serving a 120-month prison sentence for the crime of aggravated fraud to the detriment of the company Gold Dragon Management.

The man was arrested last January in Costa Rica. At the time of his arrest, he presented a US passport and objected to being verified by Panamanian authorities, claiming to be a US citizen.

Bocas del Toro is a province marked by significant poverty rates and, in turn, the political kingdom of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) deputy , Benicio Robinson , who frequently boasts of having been elected in that remote region in seven occasions.

In this place, which corresponds to circuit 1-1, as in San Miguelito , there is a marked imbalance between the statistics of people who vote in the upcoming elections on May 5, with the population over 18 years of age residing in the area.

According to the registry of the Electoral Tribunal (TE) , in Bocas del Toro there are 108,849 citizens registered who will be able to vote in the general elections. However, according to data from the XII National Population and Housing Censuses , the total number of residents over 18 years of age is 87,603 inhabitants.

Furthermore, from this last figure we would have to subtract the foreigners, who cannot vote next May because they do not have citizenship and who number 1,233, according to last year’s census.

In other words, in Bocas del Toro there are 86,370 inhabitants of legal age and eligible to vote in this year’s elections, which does not agree with the Electoral Registry in which 22,479 more voters appear.

In Bocas del Toro two deputies are elected and Robinson will try again to be elected there. The last time he was chosen, in May 2019, he sent a message to his political rivals who questioned the transparency of the elections in the electoral circuit: “I came out by half a quotient, it hurts whoever it hurts.”

One of Robinson’s questioned strategies in recent years is the creation of new townships, without any type of planning or technical support, to benefit politically.

For example, in December 2020, President Laurentino Cortizo sanctioned a bill that created 11 townships in Bocas del Toro, an initiative promoted by Robinson, also president of the PRD.

Starting this Friday, March 8, the price of 95 and 91 octane gasoline will increase.

The 95 octane one will register an increase of three cents per liter and will be sold at $1.06. While the 91 octane one will rise one cent and the sale price will be 97 cents.

Meanwhile, the price of low-sulfur diesel will decrease by five cents per liter and will be sold at 93 cents.

These prices will begin to take effect from 6:00 am this Friday until next Friday, March 22, reported the National Secretariat of Energy.


More articles