Tuesday 11th June 2024.

June 10, 2024


The Second Electoral Court admitted the partial challenge presented by the former candidate for free nomination, Zulay Rodríguez , against the election and proclamation of Luis Omar Ortega, of Realizing Goals, as elected deputy in circuit 8-2 (San Miguelito), it was reported this Monday, June 10.

Rodríguez, who is currently a deputy for the Democratic Revolutionary Party, challenged the counting of the votes recorded in the minutes of nine tables and in turn Ortega’s proclamation.

In the 8-2 circuit there are two challenge processes; In addition to the one presented by Rodríguez, there is the one filed by former candidate José Ruiloba Pineda, who presented a challenge against the election of the Vamos coalition candidates.

This appeal was rejected by the Second Electoral Court, but it was appealed and went to the full Electoral Court.

Ruiloba Pineda challenged 29 of the 524 minutes of the 8-2 circuit election, a lawsuit that would directly affect the four seats of the Vamos coalition. Those affected were: Eduardo Gaitán, Luis Duke, Alexandra Brenes and Yarelis Rodríguez.

In the elections held on May 5, Raúl Pineda (PRD), Luis Eduardo Camacho (Realising Goals) and Luis Omar Ortega (Realising Goals) were also elected in this circuit.

Juan Diego Vásquez , deputy for San Miguelito, believes that the next president of the National Assembly , who will be installed this July 1, must reach said position by example.

The statements were given by Vásquez during the broadcast of Telemetro Reporta , where he made clear his position on the candidacy of the elected deputy Luis Eduardo Camacho , of the Realizing Goals (RM) party , for the presidency of the Assembly. “I don’t go so much with the figure, but with who that person decides to build the majority of it, which we all need to be able to reach that goal,” he stated.

He also clarified that it must be taken into account that the Legislative Body is a “place of many debates” and to make the decision of who will preside over it for a year, it is important that the different groups reveal their legislative agendas, so that the elected representatives they can make the best decision.

He also revealed the position of the elected president, José Raúl Mulino , regarding Camacho’s candidacy. “In that meeting he was very frank (…) he said that it is not that he has something against Camacho, but that he is not going to get involved,” said Vásquez.

Regarding the possibility of a second candidate emerging in the RM party to preside over the Assembly, Vásquez sees this as a “quite closed” option.

“Basically (the RM board of directors) instructed their caucus to support the candidate already elected, and told them that the decision of each deputy not to agree to that decision would subject that deputy to revocation of mandate.”

During the interview, Vásquez criticized the financial management of the government of President Laurentino Cortizo, pointing out that the proposal to acquire new debt to make contributions to the Panama Savings Fund (FAP) , violates fundamental principles established by law, which establishes that Resources allocated to the FAP must come from the assets generated by the Panama Canal.

“If now he is asking for debt to pay that, where was that money? They paid it in payroll, they paid it in parallel decentralization, they paid it in aid that they should never have delivered,” he asserted.

The deputy did not limit himself to pointing out the misuse of funds and accused the Minister of Economy and Finance, Héctor Alexander, of trying to avoid legal responsibilities through last-minute financial maneuvers. “This saving play, in the last minute of the game, is once again a formula for him to avoid the criminal responsibility that he knows falls on him,” said Vásquez.

He also questioned the Government’s argument that the Covid-19 pandemic was the cause of the diversion of funds. “In 2023, what pandemic was there? The ugliest pandemic that I have experienced is called the government of President Cortizo. Not the covid one,” he asserted.

“The money from the Canal’s income, which by law should have gone to the savings fund, was burned in the parallel decentralization and burned in the campaign that they lost rampantly,” he concluded.

In the coming months, the elected mayors of the country’s three largest municipalities , Panamá and San Miguelito in Panama province, and Colón in Colón province, will face a challenge of monumental proportions: restoring public trust and righting the administrative direction after the vicissitudes left by his predecessors.

The task not only implies the duty to efficiently manage municipal resources , but also the urgency of rebuilding the reputation of these important jurisdictions. Several of these municipalities even owe millions to the Social Security Fund (CSS).

In the case of the Municipality of Panama, Mayor José Luis Fábrega was characterized by inflating his payroll and managing more than $1.5 billion in budget in five years, without any notable works being known in the most populated district in the country.

Until April of this year, Fábrega had a staff of 6,250 employees , which is 2,750 more than when his administration began in 2019, when there were 3,500. What’s more, the mayor, who tried to be re-elected, in his campaign closing speech defended his inflated appointments and promised to “increase” salaries.

This growth in the number of employees has had a direct impact on the municipal budget. In 2019, the Municipality of Panama disbursed $3.4 million per month to cover staff salaries, while now that amount amounts to $5.6 million.

On the other hand, the mayor confronted civil society organizations such as the Panama Urban Citizen Network due to controversial issues such as the construction of new beaches ($120 million) and a new seafood market ($45 million) in the Cinta Costera. Both issues were rejected by citizens and reached the legal sphere.

In this municipality, the transition process began with a meeting on May 10 and two of the main challenges of the elected mayor, Mayer Mizrachi, will be to audit the payroll and face financial commitments or debts of more than $135 million.

In a year with an expectation of a greater increase in interest rates, credit card consumption has not contracted. On the contrary, consumers continue to use plastic money to finance purchases, trips and other day-to-day expenses or to complete the purchase of basic products such as food and basic necessities and to pay for services.

The total balance of debts of Panamanians with banks, cooperatives, finance companies, telecommunications and other companies that provide financing or sell on credit is 39,441 million dollars. On average, each person owes at least $7,843, taking into account that the APC Experian credit bureau has registered 5 million active credit obligations.

Only in credit cards, the balance owed to banks increased by 5.74% at the end of May compared to the same month in 2023, to total 2,557 million dollars.

In Panama, 756,959 credit cards classified by the APC Experian as credit obligations are active. The average balance per card is $3,379 and the amount of obligations with a delinquency of more than 2 months unpaid is 10.95%.

Personal finance experts, such as Ariadna Kan, co-founder of the @lideragrow platform and producer of @larutadelcrecimiento, indicate that paying with credit cards is not a problem as long as the consumer cancels the entire amount spent before expiration, so as not to generate interest on financing or paying above the minimum amount to quickly reduce the balance and not fall into default or double or triple the debt.

There are people who decide to pay with cards for purchases in supermarkets even when they have the liquidity to do so, as a method to accumulate miles or points that they can later redeem. In these cases, the recommendation is to pay the entire purchase made with the card at once.

The APC report also reveals that the approval of new credit cards increased 8.86% in one year, going from 695,295 in May 2023 to 756,959. In April of this year alone, banks processed 5,349 new credit cards.

According to the Superintendency of the Bank of Panama, interest rates on credit cards average 21.22% at the end of April of this year. For the same month of 2023 it was 20.49% and in April 2022 the average was 20.01%. Depending on the type of card and banks, there are interest rates that range between 14% and 24%.

The president of the board of directors of the Banking Association of Panama, Raúl Guizado, recently explained that in Panama the effect of the increase in interest rates that occurred in the United States by the Federal Reserve was going to be felt for the rest of the year. year, so banks would be more cautious with granting new financing to manage delinquencies and reduce the risks of non-payment.

So far in 2024, police officers have apprehended 43 people at the Tocumen International Airport , who had arrest warrants in force.

Of these, 16 people were arrested for various crimes and misdemeanors, and 7 cases of possession of illicit substances, mostly camouflaged in various devices, have been detected.

In relation to illicit substances, the Chief of Airport Security of the National Police , José Castro, indicated that the highest rate of international traffic occurs through the cargo terminal with the main destination to Europe.

Recently, a Venezuelan citizen was arrested with 66 drug tablets in his stomach.

Tracking and surveillance patrols, as well as operations at the airport, have also led to the seizure of 240 macaw eggs, allegedly related to wildlife trafficking and linked to environmental crimes.

Likewise, the National Police has achieved the deportation of 34 citizens to various countries. Operational and preventive actions continue at the national level as part of the institution’s security strategies.

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