Tuesday 15th February 2022.

February 15, 2022



The Ministry of Health (Minsa) reported this Monday, that 799 Covid-19 infections were reported in the last 24 hours, a figure that has been declining in recent days. 5,755 tests were applied for a positivity of 13.9%. The death toll in the last few hours was 9 people, according to the report from the Department of Epidemiology. And a death from an earlier date is updated. While active cases drop to 19,012, of which 18,570 are in home isolation and 442 hospitalized. Those in isolation are divided into 18,468 at home and 102 in hotels. Those hospitalized are 382 in the ward and 60 in intensive care units.

The Minister of Education, Maruja Gorday de Villalobos, declared on the afternoon of this Monday, February 14, that the start of the 2022 school year will be staggered. Gorday de Villalobos explained that this mechanism will be used in educational centers with very high enrollments. She added that several public educational centers had presented this proposal and took the opportunity to recall that this mechanism was already used in the private sector. “I don’t think this should cause any confusion,” she said. “It is not a progressive return, that some will enter in April and others in March. No, this will not be the case”, emphasized the minister.

The Attorney General’s Office asked to call a trial in the case that is being investigated for an alleged collection of double salary at the Autonomous University of Chiriquí (Unachi) and the Ministry of Education (Meduca). According to the Prosecutor’s Office, a teacher and two rectors are called to trial for an alleged patrimonial injury of more than 209 thousand dollars. They are the teacher Nitzia Muñoz and the rectors Héctor Requena and Etevilna de Bonagas.

Ministry of Culture

The group Artists for Panama expressed its rejection that Carlos Aguilar, who until a few days ago was in charge of the Ministry of Culture (MiCultura), be appointed to the foreign service. This was announced by this group in a letter addressed to the Chancellor of the Republic, Erika Mouynes, and in which they ask her to “stop any action in this regard.” Last Thursday, February 10, the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, announced some changes in his Cabinet. Among them, the departure of Aguilar from MiCultura, to be appointed to the Panamanian foreign service, was reported on that day. “The former minister has been questioned by citizens by virtue of his administrative management of the institution in his charge, including open processes for possible improper management of public funds, benefiting people from his personal circle,” the note states. Therefore, for the group Artists for Panama “it is essential that Mr. Aguilar remain in national territory to attend to these investigations.”

Executive Decree No. 5 of February 14, 2022 orders the closure of national and municipal public offices in the country on February 28, 2022. The decree of the Ministry of Government was sanctioned this Monday by President Laurentino Cortizo and this rule also recalls the cancellation, due to the pandemic, of the celebration of the Carnival from February 26 to March 1. However, “this Tuesday, March 1, is a day off by legal mandate; however, the foregoing does not constitute an obstacle for the movement of people towards recreation and leisure areas, on those dates”.

The budgets of the Judicial Branch (OJ) and the Public Ministry (MP) must be included directly in the general budget of the State, according to article 214 of the Constitution , and the decision of the Executive to ignore this provision entails an alteration that generates conflicts between the organs of the State. These reasonings are included in a ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice that on December 23, 2021 declared unconstitutional articles 7 and 8 of Law 176 of November 13, 2020, which approved the general budget of the State for the year 2021 . The budget presented by the Judicial Branch for that year was $279 million and the Ministry of Economy and Bonds (MEF) assigned the sum of $182.2 million, that is, it cut $96.7 million. Meanwhile, the MP prepared a budget of $200.8 million and the MEF assigned $145.3 million, which accounts for a cut of more than $55 million. He stressed that the ruling is mandatory, so it must be complied with by the Executive and Legislative bodies.

In Panama there are more than 100 thousand people looking for a job. They compete for few job opportunities when economic growth is focused on the external sector, specifically due to the contributions of the Canal and mining , both with highly technical requirements. The rating agency Fitch Ratings warned in its latest report of the weakness of domestic demand and cited two sectors in particular: construction and retail trade, which represent 27% of the country’s jobs.

The limitations in the production capacity of car manufacturers is putting pressure on the local vehicle distribution chain. It is an international phenomenon, from which Panama does not escape and that translates into a reduction in inventories and increases in delivery times. The president of the Association of Car Dealers of Panama (ADAP), Bogdan Batinovich, told La Prensa that the origin of the production problems lies in the shortage of microchips and semiconductors, which limits the production capacity of manufacturers and that the level of impact on the capacity to meet demand is uneven. Regarding the delivery times for cars that are not in stock, he said that they can be between 90 to 180 days, that is, from three to six months. Batinovich agreed that it is still paradoxical that after the economic impact caused by the pandemic, the sector has more difficulties on the supply side than on the demand side, which is recovering.

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