Tuesday 24th January 2023.

January 24, 2023

A writ of habeas data for the director of the Social Security Fund (CSS) , Enrique Lau Cortés, to publish the letters of deputies who would have requested appointments in that institution, presented on Monday morning, by the president of the Otro Camino, Ricardo Lombana. He said that the objective is to know which deputies use this “bad practice”, which is an electoral crime. “The Social Security Fund cannot be the piñata of the political parties,” he said. He explained that now the director of Social Security has 30 days to respond. “An essential part of the transformation that we want to make in this country is that the politicians who hold elected positions, especially the deputies, stop distributing the money of Panamanians by paying political favors with appointments,” he said. He indicated that this practice, of paying a favor to a politician with a position because he signed up for a party or its convention, has filled the institutions with this type of hiring. “Deputies, including Benicio Robinson, have appointment quotas in the Social Security Fund, like many other deputies. Then there is not enough money to pay pensions, ”he said. He assured that a few days ago the director expressed in an interview that he receives requests from deputies. “We are asking him to deliver copies of the letters and emails of requests, both from deputies and other officials,” he added.

The exclusively defined-benefit pension subsystem is finally sinking. The actuarial reports have predicted the end of its reserves in 2024, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has validated it, while the Government recognizes it, without knowing how or when the dialogue would be reactivated to propose a reform. As the months go by and the financial results of each fiscal year are released, it becomes clear that the end is getting closer, because expenses do not stop increasing and current income is not enough to face the payments of pensioners and retirees. Two weeks ago, the administration of the Social Security Fund (CSS) presented to its board of directors the financial summary for 2021, in which the systematic deterioration of the Disability, Old Age and Death pension subsystem (IVM) is observed. According to the information presented by the entity, to which La Prensa has had access, at the end of 2021 the institutional reserves of the pension subsystem ended at $1,001 million, which meant a reduction of 14% or $168 million when comparing the result with that of the year 2020. The reserves, which were set up as IVM savings, have reached a point of extinction because they are used to meet current expenses. The program had costs and expenses of $2,032 million, while its current income for the year barely reached $1,314 million, plus another $100 million for financial management. In this scenario, the CSS has no other way than to resort to their savings to pay pensions. According to information from the CSS, (before State contributions) in 2021 the deficit of the exclusively defined benefit subsystem would have been $616 million.But after current transfers from the State for $148 million and contributions for the sustainability of the program for $297.9 million made by the  National Bank of Panama with funds from the trust, to cover the operating deficit of the periods 2018 and 2019, plus income from previous periods for $4 million, there was a deficit of $166 million in the 2021 results.

The Presidency of the Republic issued Decree 17 of January 18, 2023 that adopts the sworn declaration of private interests form, as provided in Law 316 of 2022, which sanctions conflict of interest. In the document, officials must declare paid or unpaid activities, of a professional, labor, economic, union, personal, or charitable nature. They must also say if they take advantage of public concessions, contracts with the State, or if it is a Government provider. In addition, they are obliged to communicate if they have received gifts in the last year that come from people or companies not related to their family. The declaration must be submitted by the ministers, vice ministers, the Comptroller General of the Republic and his sub-comtroller; as well as the heads of diplomatic missions, the Ombudsman, the Superintendent of Banks, Insurance, the members of the boards of directors of State companies, the mayors, the deputy mayors, the representatives of the corregimiento, governors, the deputies of the Assembly and the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, among many others. It also applies to directors, dignitaries, shareholders, final beneficiaries and attorneys of legal persons who are awarded public tenders for State goods or services. The decree, recently made public, recalls that article 8 of Law 316 (conflict of interest) provides that natural persons identified as obligated subjects (officials) must exercise their functions with independence of criteria and equity, therefore they may not have interest of a particular, economic, labor and financial type that could enter into a conflict of interest with their duties and functions, or incur a conflict of interest. The rule adds that obligated subjects must present the sworn declaration of private interests no later than 30 days after taking office. This provision also establishes that it will come into force from its promulgation in the Official Gazette , an event that took place on January 18. Even, according to the law, the processing of the sworn statement before a notary will be free. Penalties for those who break the law range from a fine equivalent to up to four months’ salary to dismissal.

The application of the bivalent vaccine against covid 19 by the pharmaceutical duo Pfizer/BioNTech is being carried out both in health facilities of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) and the Social Security Fund (CSS) , as well as in private hospitals. For example, The Panama Clinic through its social networks reported that it opened its vaccination center again for the application of the bivalent vaccine. The vaccine that is aimed at the population over 12 years of age, older adults, pregnant women, patients with chronic diseases, patients with rare diseases, nursing mothers, people who have suffered from covid-19, immunosuppressed patients and patients living with the human immunodeficiency virus. Health personnel at The Panama Clinic will be administering the bivalent vaccine from 8:00 am to 12:00 noon and free of charge. Another private hospital that is also applying the bivalent vaccine that protects against the original variant from Wuhan (China) and the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, is Pacifica Salud at the Costa del Este headquarters, at 7:00 a.m. at 1:00 p.m. Bivalent vaccines are administered free of charge until they are exhausted in the lobby area , ground floor. For her part, the nursing manager of the José Joaquín Vallarino polyclinic, Sheyla Thomas, indicated that starting yesterday, the bivalent vaccine will be administered from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Musicalion 2023 will be held from Thursday 9 to Sunday 12 February, an event that this year celebrates its tenth version. As in previous years, this cultural festival will take place at the Parque Omar amphitheater, in the Corregimiento of San Francisco. Musicalion is an initiative headed by the ARIA Foundation, an organization that seeks to strengthen the performing arts and cultural industries through the dissemination, promotion and proper staging of talent.As reported, the activities of the Musicalion Festival 2023 will start at 5:00 p.m., while the concerts will be from 7:00 p.m.

 Below is the event agenda:

Thursday 9 – Songs of my land: the folkloric musical

Friday the 10th – Magical Adventures: a concert with the performance of the Herberto López Band

Saturday 11 – Sunset Bash: concert of new talents and closing surprises

Sunday 12 – Totally 80′s: Symphonic Rock and Pop

The organizers have highlighted that throughout this decade there have been more than 2,000 Panamanian artists who have performed on this stage, which has allowed them to expose their talent to the large audience.

It should be remembered that the entrance to the festival is free.

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