Wednesday 14th December 2022.

December 14, 2022


A criminal complaint to investigate the allocation of funds for the lighting of different parks in the Municipality of Panama as a result of the 2022 Christmas holidays, was presented by the lawyer José Moncada Luna, representing the citizen Heraclio Bustamante. Mocada Luna specified that in this case the Public Ministry must investigate possible acts of corruption in the process of installing Christmas lighting. He recalled that in this case the mayor’s office of Panama, headed by José Luis Fábrega, made a direct contract for the installation of Christmas lighting, when a public tender should have been made to choose a suitable company to carry out these works. “Mayor José Luis Fábrega directly assigned the realization of the Christmas lighting to a company, when he could have called a public tender since the beginning of this year and avoid a situation of haste,” added Bustamante. Bustamante stressed that it is suspicious that when Christmas was two months away, the authorities of the Municipality of Panama remembered that they had to light the parks of Panama City. The lighting of 33 sites in the district of Panama had a cost of $2.9 million and was assigned to the Contraseñas SA company. However, after its installation, harsh criticism arose from the public regarding the quality of the work carried out and the amount of said contracting. Fábrega defended himself on Monday, During a lunch with journalists, Fábrega described as “morbid” the questions that some citizens have made both to the Christmas parade that was held last Sunday, and to the lighting. According to Fábrega, “he would never pay a bribe” or overprice during his tenure. He indicated that to “avoid the morbidity” of some “malicious people” he can confirm that all the documentation on the contract for the parade, previously passed through the hands of the Economic Council (Cena) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Comptroller’s Office .

Without a strategic plan for delivery and hoping to act in good faith, the government of President Laurentino Cortizo began distributing hams and poultry for Christmas 2022. The Institute of Agricultural Marketing (IMA ), the entity in charge of managing this project, invested at least $25 million in the purchase of these products, whose delivery will be in charge of the mayors and representatives of corregimientos of the country. In addition to hams, they will deliver other items derived from pork and other traditional Christmas foods.However, this aid should be given on a discretionary basis, since so far, the only order that has been given to local governments is that they be delivered to the  “most needy families” in each area.Since last October, the IMA authorities have given various versions of the issue. First they talked about distributing 2 million pieces, and that some would be sold at agricultural fairs throughout the country, for 50% less than the sale price. At  that time there was no talk of a fixed price. Later they announced that they were contemplating some donations in the 300 corregimientos of the Plan Colmena, of multidimensional poverty. And then they suggested that the acquisition of the products would be done through a digital platform. However, finally the distribution of the hams remained in the hands of the local governments. “We are trying to be equitable when distributing. There are boards that ask us for ham and other chicken products. We try to divide it in the best way ”, while indicating that they have arranged to deliver the aid“ to all community boards, whether or not they are related to the ideology and political party in which we belong ”. But up until Monday, some boards and mayors of the country had not been informed of the mechanism. Eliécer Cortés, president of the Association of Municipalities of Panama and mayor of Macaracas, Los Santos, told La Prensa that he has not been informed of what the director of the IMA said.

The Ministry of Health (Minsa) reported that it received a new batch with 72,000 monovalent vaccines on Tuesday to continue with the vaccination plan against covid- 19 throughout the country. This batch from the pharmaceutical Pfizer will be to continue with the application of first and second doses. Likewise with booster doses. The coordinator of the Minsa Expanded Immunization Program, Itzel de Hewitt, reiterated that it is a minimum requirement to have two doses of the monovalent vaccine against the new coronavirus to be able to apply the bivalent vaccine. These bivalent doses could arrive in the country in the coming weeks.”We urge the population that before December 31 they can have the opportunity to apply the two doses of the monovalent vaccine, so they will be safe to apply the bivalent next year, since it has  greater coverage against all variants of Omicron and others. Hewitt said. Since the covid-19 immunization process began in January 2021, 8 million 687 thousand 736 doses have been applied nationwide.

At least 19 people were apprehended –both in Panama and Costa Rica– in an operation carried out to locate members of an organization dedicated to migrant smuggling. These are the results of Operation Firmeza, developed between Panama and Costa Rica, it was reported yesterday 2022. 16 apprehensions took place in Panama and the rest in Costa Rica, within the 20 search procedures carried out in this operation. Among those apprehended in Panama are six public officials who worked in the National Immigration Service. The proceedings were carried out in the provinces of Panama and West Panama. As reported at a press conference, this criminal group, with international connections, charged each migrant (Hindus, Cubans and Nepalis) close to 3,000 dollars for moving illegally, by air, through the Tocumen International Airport. Then, through the collaboration of public officials, illegal entry into Panama was allowed without the corresponding immigration procedures.

Owning your own home is the goal of many people in Panama. The real estate market is one of the most dynamic and this is reflected in the constant increase in requests and granting of mortgage loans by the banking system. At the same time, there is an increase in sales contracts for housing units registered in the Public Registry. Inventory, however, is still greater than demand. New mortgage loans increased 19.8% between January and October of this year, when the disbursement stood at 1,815 million dollars, compared to 1,515 million dollars in the 10 months of 2021, according to the Banking Activity report of the Superintendency of Banks of Panama. In October alone, 214 million dollars in loans were approved to purchase homes. The mortgage loan portfolio, which includes both current loans and new disbursements, totaled 19,647 million dollars at the end of October, an increase of 5.5% in contrast to the 18,631 million dollars in current loans in the same month of 2021.



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