Tuesday 2nd January 2024.

January 1, 2024


2024 has arrived, and with it, the feared reality: this year the reserves of the exclusively defined benefit pension subsystem will run out. This had been warned by both the actuaries of the Social Security Fund (CSS) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), without the authorities having made any move to stop the debacle.

The forecast was that the reserves of the IVM subsystem and the trust in its favor would be exhausted between the last quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024, warned the Current Technical Board (JTA) from the year 2022.

The end of the reserves is the most critical moment for the CSS. As payments to retirees increase each year and the income from the worker-employer quota designated for this program is not sufficient to meet these commitments, money is taken from reserves or savings to pay pensions.

This means that if reserves are depleted, the temporary solution would be for the Government to inject additional funds, increasing deposits in the IVM trust. This measure, however, would intensify fiscal pressures in Panama, which faces difficulties in reducing its current expenses and relies heavily on taking on more debt to finance its operations.

Hence, what happens at the IVM has a great impact on the entire country. But in the scramble for the 2024 general state budget, approved on the brink of the limit, Panama’s most important economic and financial issue was not part of the discussion despite the death sentence.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) planned to pay $2,929 million in interest on the debt in 2024, according to the general state budget, approved on Friday, December 29 by the National Assembly.

The amount exceeds the direct contributions to the State that the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has budgeted for $2,082 million in dividends and another $664 million in tolls to make a grand total of $2,746 million, as provided in the general budget. of the State.

However, for the Canal’s 2024 fiscal year, the ACP estimates total revenues of $4,776.5 million and contributions to the national treasury of $2,470.8 million.

The Canal is one of the main taxpayers of the central government. For next year they represent about 23%. But the more money it gives, the more money is spent and it is not known what it is invested in since everything goes to the National Treasury.

In a period of four and a half years – July 2019 to December 2023 – the National Assembly has allocated some 450 thousand in payment of travel tickets and travel expenses for deputies, advisors and legislative officials.

This is detailed in a report from this State Body that highlights that in the last six months of 2019 – the year before the pandemic – was when the most public funds were used: $270,494.

During 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, trips were suspended. However, they were resumed for 2021. That year they spent a total of $92,374 on plane tickets plus travel expenses.

In 2022, the figure was decreasing: $58,368. For 2023 the expense was $27,065.

The Mayor’s Office of Panama , chaired by José Luis Fábrega, republished the tender for the construction project of a peripheral market in Tocumen, after the public event did not materialize in a first attempt due to the presentation of several legal appeals.

The new publication was last December 29 and the reference cost of the project is $12 million.

According to the specifications on the Panama Compra site, the proposals must be received on January 10, 2024, at 10:00 am

It must be remembered that Fábrega declared the tender for this work void on December 13. This, after a series of complaints presented by the companies that made offers in the public tender, carried out on October 5.

There were four companies that participated in the event.

A total of 520,085 migrants crossed the Darién jungle during the year 2023, the Ministry of Public Security reported this Monday, January 1, 2024. A record number.

The list of migrants is headed by Venezuelans. According to figures from the National Immigration Service as of December 31, 328,667 passed through the dangerous trails and rivers of Darién. They are followed by Ecuadorians with 57,222, Haitians with 46,558 and Chinese with 25,244.

In October, more migrants passed through the country: 49,256. In November and December, a decrease was recorded: 37,231 and 24,626 respectively.

Every year the number of people leaving their countries heading to the United States increases. In 2020, the year of the pandemic, 8,594 crossed; In 2021 there were 133,726 and in 2022 248,283 passed.

Panamanian authorities said this Monday that the different security forces closed the year 2023 with 119.2 tons of drugs seized, compared to 138.41 tons seized in 2022.

With these seizures, the majority of cocaine, “organized crime has been hit hard, causing millions in losses, with the seizure of 27 million 209 thousand 278 dollars,” the Ministry of Public Security of Panama (Minseg) said on its social networks. .

Official information details that in the more than 180 anti-drug operations carried out this year, 636 people were arrested, 486 of Panamanian nationality and 150 foreigners.

The Security portfolio highlighted that in the Government of Laurentino Cortizo, which took office on July 1, 2019, “542.4 tons of drugs have been seized, 112 tons more than what was seized during the last two Administrations.”

Last Saturday, authorities reported the seizure of 2,110 packages of drugs in an area of ​​the Panamanian Caribbean, and also the arrest of four people for their alleged connection with the stash.

The seizure of this shipment of drugs, not specified in weight or type, occurred after the interception by agents of the National Aeronaval Service (Senan) of a speedboat north of Isla Grande in Costa Arriba de Colón, said in its account. the social network X (formerly Twitter) the Minseg.

In 2022, Panama seized a historic amount of 138.41 tons of drugs, of which 108.82 were cocaine, according to official figures.

The country used as a bridge for drugs produced in South America and whose main destination is the United States, the largest consumer of cocaine in the world, and also Europe.

Specialists from the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology of Panama (Imhpa) calculate that the El Niño phenomenon has a 62% probability of continuing until June 2024, thus extending the dry season or summer, which normally lasts the first four months of the year. .

Precisely from this month (January) to March, there will be a decrease in rainfall, maximum and minimum temperatures will increase and much more evaporation will be felt, the specialists explain.

Given this scenario, the Ministry of the Environment (MiAmbiente) indicated that this is the main reason why the declaration of a State of Environmental Emergency was extended, approved and announced on December 27, 2023 by the Cabinet Council.

It must be remembered that on May 30, 2023, the government, according to Cabinet Resolution No. 48 of May 30, 2023, declared a state of environmental emergency throughout the national territory, “in the face of the prolonged drought and as a consequence of the climate crisis” and installed an inter-institutional team to address this situation.

President Laurentino Cortizo extended by Executive Decree of December 29, 2023 the maximum retail prices of 18 products in the basic basket.

The extension is for 6 months, that is, until July 2024. The measure was agreed on December 21 by the Price Adjustments Commission.

According to the Commission, it was decided to extend price control “given the circumstances that our country has been experiencing throughout the year, such as the effects of the El Niño phenomenon that has greatly impacted the planting of products, as well as the closures due to protests in different areas of the country in the month of November.”

Among the products with price control are: babilla, bone-in strip steak, whole Panama chicken, premium ground beef, premium rice, among others.


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