Tuesday 16th April 2024.

April 15, 2024


The Comptroller General of the Republic denied information about payments from the Central Government that have received endorsement from the entity and that is public information, as dictated by Law 6 of 2002 or Transparency Law .

The information was requested in writing on February 29 from Comptroller Gerardo Solís by the president of the board of directors of the Foundation for the Development of Citizen Liberty (Panamanian chapter of Transparency International), Lina Vega .

Specifically, Vega, “exercising the right to freedom of expression and the principle of public access,” requested the database of all State expenses that the Comptroller’s Office processed and that rest in its files, since December 1. July 2019 (when Laurentino Cortizo ‘s government took office ) to date.

The Transparency Law, in its article 2, indicates that any person can request publicly accessible information held by State institutions, without needing to support or justify anything. The same rule states that the Comptroller’s Office must publish (on its website) a report on budget execution, no later than 30 days after said execution.

But the Comptroller’s Office, instead of providing the requested information, responded to Vega that he should go to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) , given that that portfolio includes the General Directorate of Treasury , attached to the Vice Ministry of Finance, which “has among Its objectives are to provide reliable and timely information on Central Government payments.”

The Comptroller’s response was sent to Vega on March 29 by Secretary General Zenia Vásquez de Palacios.

Transparency in the Comptroller’s Office is in question, after La Prensa published a database with information on 4,909 financial aid granted by the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu) , which represents an expense total of $141.1 million. The Comptroller’s Office hid the names of 56% of the beneficiaries, despite the fact that the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) warned that the use of State funds is publicly accessible information.

Lawyer Abdiel González Tejeira, Secretary General of the Project 2000 Movement of Arraiján, presented a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office against the Comptroller General of the Republic, Gerardo Solís, after La Prensa published a list of more than two thousand names of people who had benefited from financial aid from the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu).

According to González, Solís violated article 102 of the Constitution , which mentions that “ the State will establish systems that provide adequate resources to grant scholarships, aid or other financial benefits to students who deserve it or need it. “In equal circumstances, the most economically needy will be preferred.”

Furthermore, the lawyer indicated that the Transparency Law says that when it comes to public funds, whether in the category of beneficiary or by contractor, the recipient, nor his name, nor his ID cannot be hidden.

56.13% of the names of the beneficiaries of the financial aid provided by the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu) remain a secret.

In the database published by La Prensa, it appears that Ifarhu distributed 4,903 non-refundable aid between July 7, 2019 and May 24, 2023. But only the identity of 2,144 beneficiaries is known. In the case of the remaining 2,759 aid, in the box where the name and surname must appear, it is indicated that the information on the final beneficiary was hidden by the Comptroller’s Office.

The Comptroller’s Office, headed by Gerardo Solís, classified the aid information as “reserved,” after Ifarhu invoked Law 81 of 2019 on the protection of personal data.

Also, González explained that Solís could have incurred in omission of public duties, illicit association to commit a crime, concealment and violation of the Constitution.

“We are talking about more than 141 million dollars that have been wasted, embezzled, given away,” González pointed out, asking for speed in the process.

Solís said, through a statement, that he trusts that the Attorney General of the Nation, Javier Caraballo, will proceed accordingly. “With humility, as a man of law, respectful of democratic institutions, we hope for that. Public servants have to stoically bear the heavy burden of legal scrutiny of our actions. And we stick to it with a clear conscience.”

The Panama Canal will announce this Monday, April 15, new measures related to the transit of ships, adjusted to the outlook and forecasts of rain.

The administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, Ricaurte Vásquez, announced that the forecasts will allow them to make a decision on progressively increasing the number of transits through the canal, which currently remains at 27 a day.

In normal terms, the road has capacity for between 36 and 38 vessels per day. Last week they announced that if the forecast is favorable, they will progressively increase transits until they are normalized by the beginning of 2025.

Ricaurte Vásquez , administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, said that the water situation of the Canal remains delicate, but the meteorological outlook points to the possibility of an increase in the rain regime, but requires confirmation.

“The Canal has to communicate responsibly what capacity will be available. During this week we will be working precisely to try to have the best rain forecast for the next 90 days and with that forecast determine if there is any modification in the number of traffic that will be allowed on the road,” he told La Prensa . , within the framework of the scientific conference “The water cycle and the management of water resources in the face of climate variability”, organized by the French Embassy in Panama and Citec (Center for Innovation, Research, and Hydro-Environmental Technology).

Vásquez said that the interest of the Canal is to have maximum capacity as long as there is sufficient availability of water.

He detailed that lake levels are approximately 80.3 feet in Gatun Lake and 212 to 213 feet of elevation in Lake Alajuela. At 3:00 pm he was at 217.

“The critical operating point of the Canal is 79 feet, so we have a difference of 1.3, so we have to know what volume of rain we expect in the coming months with some certainty to be able to indicate to the market that there is more capacity,” he explained.

The Canal administrator reiterated that the proposal to redefine the Canal’s hydrographic account is in the hands of the Cabinet Council and will have to wait for the next government administration.

He said that the Canal met with the candidates for president of the Republic, and most of them indicated their interest in supporting the ACP to achieve the greatest availability of necessary water.

“There are nuances, some lean towards a reservoir on the Indio River, others towards Bayano, but at least the issue is in the frame of reference of almost all the candidates, which allows us to think that we are going to have an opportunity to carry this issue forward.”

Vásquez announced that next week he will meet with representatives of the bulk ship shipping companies, which is the segment that has been most affected by the restrictions on passages in the Canal.

“They are using the Cape of Good Hope route, and a couple of them have used the Strait of Magellan, but the Canal, by treaty, has the obligation to remain open in its operation to all ships in the world,” he explained.

He said Maersk’s return is a clear sign that the Channel route is a reliable route for global maritime trade. “The route through the Panama Canal remains the most efficient route. Now the situation has been aggravated by the issue of the Middle East and the Suéz Canal, but ours is the most efficient, but we cannot abuse that,” he added.

He specified that for now the impact of toll revenues continues to have estimates of a reduction of between $500 million and $700 million. “Some of that has been offset by other maritime services, including auctions that were highly recognized. That materialized in the first four months of operation [after the restrictions], but now the market has adjusted, the line of vessels has decreased, and we are waiting for 50 vessels.”

Panama temporarily raised the limit for self-consumption of clean energy and new renewable sources such as solar, wind and others from 2% to 3%.

This is indicated by resolution number 19011 of April 12 of the National Authority of Public Services (ASEP), which indicates that a temporary percentage of the maximum annual energy consumption in gigawatt-hour GWh of penetration is established that determines the maximum installed capacity. of generation plants of clients who take advantage of the Self-consumption Procedure with New Sources. Renewable and Clean.

The 3% temporary limit of the maximum annual energy consumption provided for in the indicative demand report will be for the Metro-West Distribution company. SA Edemet, the Distributing Company of Chiriquí SA (Edechi) and the company Elektra Noreste, SA ENSA.

The national secretary of energy, Rosilena Lindo, told La Prensa that this measure is of benefit at the national level. “It will allow us to promote the democratization of clean energy in line with the national distributed generation strategy and the energy transition agenda of Panama.” She indicated at the same time that she pointed out that this allows more Panamanians to take advantage of the solar energy that reaches their roofs to reduce their electricity bill.

The resolution indicates that the transitional percentage will begin to take effect as of April 22 of this year.

Lindo highlighted that the growth of clients in use of the self-consumption figure has increased from 5 clients that were maintained in 2014, to 3,325 at the end of February and the installed capacity stood at 102,268 kilowatts (KW).


More articles