Wednesday 10th April 2024.

April 9, 2024


At least $28.9 million , which should have been used by the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) for the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads , were transferred to the National Assembly (AN) to finance the payroll of temporary personnel and professional services.

The transfer in favor of the AN was carried out alleging alleged “poor budget execution” by the MOP, as stated in the resolutions of the National Budget Directorate of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). There is no information about these transfers in the minutes of the sessions of the Budget Commission of the AN.

La Prensa tried to obtain the version of the deputy president of the AN Budget Commission, Benicio Robinson , but he preferred to remain silent . He decided not to answer five questions sent since March 25.

To deliver these million-dollar funds to the Assembly, the MEF relied on article 325 of the Budget Law, which deals with modifications. The article details that the MEF may process transfers by reducing the amount of one or more institutions with the “purpose of increasing the allocation of one or other” entities, through transfers of items.

The money used comes from budget availability or from the “low execution of the entities”, as the transfer resolutions highlight.

The MOP, headed by Rafael Sabonge, is one of the most questioned entities , precisely due to the lack of maintenance of the roads and the large number of holes in them.

The first transfer dates back to September 2020 and is for $13.5 million, divided as follows: $6.5 million, which was originally for the “rehabilitation of the Gualaca-Chiriquí Grande highway,” and $7 million for the “construction of a grade interchange.” (it is not specified where).

Then, in November 2021, another transfer of the MOP budget in favor of the legislative forms was finalized, for $1.3 million. The money was for work on the Madden-Colón highway.

In 2022, two more diversions were completed: one in June, for $11.8 million, and another in November, for $2.3 million. The first was for the rehabilitation of production roads , and the second, for flood protection, urban works, maintenance and communication routes (specifically on the Gatún-Miguel de la Borda highway).

The legislative payroll has increased , despite the fact that the board of directors of the AN, in July 2022, announced a “spending adjustment plan”, which implied the “suspension” of salary increases and permanent appointments.

In practice, the opposite happened: in July 2019, when Laurentino Cortizo’s government took office , there were 2,339 officials and now there are 6,071 on the legislative payroll, between temporary and permanent.

La Prensa presents the first interactive database of the juicy economic aid that the Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu) distributed in just under four years: between July 7, 2019 and May 24, 2023.

The Ifarhu has done everything possible to hide this information. Bernardo Nando Meneses , who was director of the entity until last January, told the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) that he would not deliver the files of those who benefited from these public funds because they involve “personal data.” and – according to him – it is information that cannot be shared. To protect the information, he invoked Law 81 of 2019, on the protection of personal data.

To make matters worse, the Comptroller General of the Republic took another step towards opacity and decided to classify the information on economic aid as “reserved.”

However, La Prensa managed to put together a database with the names of 2,144 beneficiaries of the economic aid program, which represents an expense of $141.6 million. They are not all: there are another 2,759 disbursements whose beneficiary remains secret.

These are public funds that Ifarhu delivers at its discretion, non-refundable and without requiring requirements such as a high academic average. The base includes only the beneficiaries of financial aid and not of other Ifarhu programs and scholarships.

To make matters worse, the Comptroller General of the Republic took another step towards opacity and decided to classify the information on economic aid as “reserved.”

Enter the database here.

In mid-March of this year, the Panama Canal announced an increase in daily transits, going from 24 to 27, in response to the current and projected level of Gatun Lake.

This measure seeks to accommodate the growing demand for transit and is already having effects on the programming of certain services.

To achieve this adjustment, the Panama Canal Authority has announced an increase in the number of daily slots available at the Panamax locks.

Starting March 18, two additional slots are offered per auction for scheduled transit dates, and starting March 25, one additional slot will be available for scheduled transits.

However, the Panama Maritime Chamber has published a statement on its X account, where they point out the urgent need to define a clear route and an action plan in the coming months.

This seeks to dispel the uncertainty that currently affects users of the Panama Canal route, regarding the drought that has been hitting the country and that has kept lake levels far from their optimal position.

The water level of Gatun Lake – vital for the operations of the Panama Canal – was at 80.3 feet until today afternoon, when the maximum operational ideal is 87.50 feet.

While the level of Alhajuela reached a level of 221.21, when its peak is 252 feet.

The union remembers that Panama’s maritime and logistics sector, centered on the Panama Canal and its water resource, plays a crucial role in the country’s economy. It contributes significantly to the national GDP , with 31% , and represents an important part of salaried employment and contributions to social security and educational insurance, with 30% and 26% respectively.

It is essential to protect the water resource to guarantee the well-being of all Panamanians. In the midst of the current crisis, “it is urgent that the National Government and the Maritime Chamber of Panama collaborate in the development of efficient alternatives to maintain the connectivity that the country offers. The relevance of this route is vital for the future of Panama and its economy,” the organization indicated.

The Panama Convention Center (PCC) generated more than 2,000 temporary job positions during the first three months of the year. This was reported by the campus administration this afternoon, Tuesday, April 9.

“Our commitment remains firm in positioning Panama as an emerging destination and promoting meeting tourism as an engine of change, activating jobs for all Panamanians and generating a circle of progress for Panama,” said the general director of the PCC, Rodolfo. From the valley.

According to data from the Tourism Promotion Fund (Promtur), various events are confirmed for 2024, with an estimated economic impact of more than 50 million dollars. These include Fiexpo Latin America and the FIATA World Congress, which will take place at the PCC.

Among the upcoming meetings is the Latin Tire & Auto Parts Expo, which will require special logistics to host an exhibition of approximately 30,000 square meters.

“It fills us with excitement to be able to say that we have the capacity and value chain necessary to host large-scale events,” added Del Valle.

By 2023, a total of 6,643 temporary jobs were generated, 79% more than in 2022, which was 3,702 temporary jobs. The economic impact of these jobs last year is estimated at 1.19 million dollars.

Panama has a total of 826,254 square feet of facilities to host events in convention centers in hotels and also 650,482 square feet at the PCC.

Since March 20, the telephone company Digicel announced the closure of its operations in Panama . With this, it warned its clients that they had until Saturday, April 20, to change operators without losing their cell phone number.

The telecommunications company began operations on December 3, 2008, providing its service to thousands of customers in the country.

Due to this announcement, customers who were part of this telephone network have responded to the call of other companies to make their number portability.

Apart from their branches, the Tigo and +Móvil telephone companies maintain stands with identified personnel at different points nationwide where you can go to carry out your portability. These are located in places such as the Albrook transport terminal . The kiosks or mini supermarkets in the neighborhoods are also doing this process.

The telephone change lasts 24 hours from the moment you activate your new chip. This change process has no cost. Remember that you can keep your number if you activate it with your new operator until Saturday, April 20.


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