Tuesday 21st November 2023.

November 20, 2023


The Minister of Economy and Finance (MEF) , Héctor Alexander, announced this Monday, November 20, that they are working on the preparation of a new draft general budget of the State for the fiscal period of 2024.

He said that they can safely announce that it will be much lower than the one he had presented a few months ago before the plenary session of the National Assembly .

The budget project that they had presented, and which was not discussed by the legislature, was $32,754 million, the highest in the history of the country.

The figure is even higher by more than $5,175 million than the amount that was approved in 2023.

According to Alexander, they are still evaluating various scenarios because the current situation in the country is constantly changing. Once they finish preparing it, they will submit it to the Cabinet Council and then send it to the Assembly.

“It is not an easy task. It is something that we are putting a lot of time and a lot of analysis into,” he said at a press conference accompanied by the director of the Social Security Fund (CSS), Enrique Lau Cortés, and the director of the General Directorate of Income (DGI), Publio De Gracia. .

Lau Cortés clarified that they cannot make the increase to retirees who earn less than $350 a month as President Laurentino Cortizo had announced a few weeks ago .

The president, in a message to the Nation, said that as of November 20, 120 thousand retirees would receive an increase in their pensions, once the Minera Panamá company made the first royalty payment.

Lau Cortés explained that, in effect, the company made the payment of $562 million 840 thousand 543 last week, but the president immediately ordered that money be placed in a restricted account until the Supreme Court of Justice issues a ruling on the unconstitutionality claims. that have been presented against Law 406, which endorsed the mining contract.

The pigs intended for the preparation of the hams for the Solidarity Christmas program have already been purchased from the pig farmers. This was reported this Monday, November 20, by Juan Guevara, president of the Association of United Pig Farmers of Panama (Apup).

He explained that since March to date, producers have sold the Government around 20 thousand pigs, to be used in the preparation of hams for the program carried out by the Agricultural Marketing Institute (IMA) .

His reaction comes a day after the Government announced the suspension of the delivery of hams for the end of the year festivities after alleging that due to the blockages of streets, by protesters who oppose the mining contract, the supply of raw materials for the preparation of ham and turkey pieces.

“In no way can it be suspended because that has already been sold,” the leader clarified.

“We have been coming since March. “We provide the raw material for the industry to carry out the industrial and pork maturation procedure to obtain the hams,” he indicated.

He assured that that is why they proceeded months in advance to carry out the transaction with the Government. “Hence, what remains paused is the logistics of delivering hams,” explained Guevara.

He assured that pig farmers also subsidize the Solidarity Christmas program, since they must wait from seven months to a year to receive their product.

Guevara clarified that the purchase of this raw material is not done overnight, but rather it is a manufactured product, which reaches between 500 thousand and 700 thousand pieces.

He recognized that this purchase represents an incentive for small and medium-sized producers, who now find themselves between “a rock and a hard place.”

In an interview with TVN Noticias , Alexis Pineda, vice minister of the Ministry of Agricultural Development, said that the decision is not about some kind of bill to the population that has taken to the streets out of discontent towards the government.

He indicated that they made an evaluation and concluded that if they acquired 1.2 million pieces of ham the market could be affected, due to the lack of distribution of the product in the country due to road closures.

Minera Panamá , a subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum, reported this Monday, November 20, that it may have to suspend its operations temporarily.

In a statement released this morning, the company said it has reduced ore processing and expects to run out of supplies to the power generation plant around the middle of the week starting today due to blockages by “small vessels.”

“The blockades – at the Punta Rincón international port – are preventing the delivery of supplies necessary to operate the power plant. Regardless of the needs of operations, the safety and well-being of Minera Panamá’s workforce is the company’s priority,” he highlighted.

He noted that local authorities are currently present and continue to monitor and evaluate the situation to achieve “a definitive return to maritime operations.”

“If illegal actions continue to impede supplies necessary to operate the power plant, the company will reduce the remaining processing train this week and temporarily suspend production,” he said.

The unemployment rate in the province of Colón reaches 10.4% at the end of August 2023, well above the national average of 7.4% according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (Inec).

Of an economically active population of 123,948 people, 111,052 are employed while 10,205 people are unemployed in the province of Colón. The majority of the unemployed are women, around 5,817.

This level of unemployment may increase due to the negative impact that road blockades are having on strategic sectors in Colón, such as logistics, commercial, tourism, and freight transportation, among others.

This was warned by Maruquel Berástegui, president in charge of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Colón, when pointing out the negative impact resulting from the closures of streets and avenues, which will have serious consequences on the economic and labor outlook for 2024, because The cascading effect of losses is incalculable.

The mayor of Panama, José Luis Fábrega, would have violated municipal agreements in Chame, for which he could be fined up to $10,000, reported the mayor of that district, Abdul Antadilla. The sanction would be for not complying with the order to suspend the construction of the perimeter wall of his beach house in Coronado. The mayor’s office is also investigating whether the wall is built outside the property boundaries.

Days ago, a citizen complaint warned that Fábrega – who intends to be re-elected in the 2024 elections – would be appropriating the easement on the beaches of Coronado, in Panama Oeste, by building a new perimeter wall, after the previous one was destroyed by the waves. In a video, posted on social media, debris was seen scattered in the public area adjacent to the land on his property.

In a La Prensa tour of the area last week, heavy equipment was observed working on the land adjacent to the official’s property. Likewise, at least nine workers were seen at the site last Wednesday. At that moment, the tide was rising, but it revealed debris on the beach, while newly installed iron bars peeked out over the water, as well as a concrete base, battered by the strong waves.

The new construction is a kind of breakwater. Even so, the water entered with force where the works were carried out. The construction seems to have taken part of the beach front and an area adjacent to the politician’s enormous residence, through which the waters of a stream flow that flows into the beach. On that side, a machicolation wall was also built, where, in addition, a sand filling would have been made.

Asked about these works, Fábrega avoided answering whether he has authorization from the National Land Administration Authority (Anati) or an environmental impact study (EIA) presented to the Ministry of Environment for a possible extension of its boundaries. Instead, he questioned La Prensa for being interested in the works. Let “society judge what may exist behind this performance,” he said.

Students in Panama, in the last four years, have lost about 22 months of in-person classes. This was stated by Francisco Trejos, Education Officer of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in Panama, regarding the suspension of classes in the country.

Trejos recalled that during the first years of the pandemic, the country went almost 20 months without in-person education. In 2002, there was a suspension of classes for about a month and now the current strike.

Unicef ​​advocates for an urgent return to face-to-face classes safely and regularly. Lost time must be recovered, that is, the school calendar must be extended for educational centers that have suspended classes.

During the pandemic, it was observed in various studies that, for every day of classes that are not taught, there are three days of learning loss. There are students who are at the lowest level, when their reading comprehension ability.must correspond to that of the primary level, third or fourth grade. That is why it is necessary to adapt to that need and, of course, recover those learnings.


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