Wednesday 1st March 2023.
March 1, 2023
The refusal of the director of the Social Security Fund (CSS), Enrique de Lau Cortés, to provide public information, is only the latest chapter in a long history plagued by opacity and secrecy in the governmental sphere.
The Institute for the Training and Use of Human Resources (Ifarhu), the Authority for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Ampyme), the National Charity Lottery, the National Authority for Transit and Land Transportation (ATTT), the National Assembly and the National Decentralization Authority, are some of the State institutions that have refused to give details about the management of their programs and other issues related to their management.
One of the most persistent in this practice is Ifarhu, whose director Bernardo Meneses has repeatedly omitted to give details about who are the beneficiaries of the scholarships and non-reimbursable financial aid provided by the entity. Meneses, an active militant of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), denied this information to La Prensa, the independent deputy Gabriel Silva and the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai), alleging that it is “personal data” and -according to him- it is information that cannot be shared,
In October 2020, the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice granted habeas data to the independent deputy Gabriel Silva, and ordered the Transit and Land Transportation Authority (ATTT) to provide him with information on the allocation of taxi and other quotas. It all happened because in January of that year, Silva asked the director of that office at the time, Miguel Martínez, to provide him with a complete list of the places that the institution has granted for selective transportation [taxis] in each province of the country during the last five years. He also asked for the license plate number, model and year of the vehicle, as well as the owner’s ID.
As a result of the ruling, the ATTT published a list of operation certificates (2,150 pages) on its social networks with the quota number, the owner, the borrower and the route or work area.
Something similar happened in the National Charity Lottery, an entity under the command of Gloriela Del Río. In December 2019, after declaring the names, IDs, and provinces where lottery ticket holders work “confidential and with restricted access,” she was forced to divulge the names of the ticket holders.
While in November 2022, the National Decentralization Authority, led by Edward Mosley Ibarra González, did not answer which community boards and municipalities in the country have received additional funds to those of the Public Works and Municipal Services Investment Program (Piosm ) and the Real Estate Tax (IBI), nor how much these funds have amounted to in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. The request was made by the independent deputy Juan Diego Vásquez, who, given the refusal of Ibarra González, took the subject to the Supreme Court of Justice through a habeas data.
Another of the institutions that has a long history of opacity is the National Assembly, whose presidents have refused to disclose the different payrolls, the contracts it assigns and the item transfers that they process in the Budget Commission of the National Assembly, among other issues.
In less than three months, the company Civil y Logística, SA was awarded two contracts, the total amount of which amounts to $63.4 million. The contracting institution is the Panamanian Institute of Sports ( Pandeportes ), which is also directed by Héctor Brands (PRD). The contracted company has among its dignitaries Marlene Cardoze Martinelli, who is, at the same time, a member of the board of directors of the National Highway Company (ENA) , as representative of the Executive.
Apparently, Pandeportes has special sympathy for the company Civil y Logística, SA, since it has awarded this company two contracts: the first, in April 2022, for $47.5 million, for the study, design, construction, equipment, and financing of the High Performance Sports Center (CAR) , which includes a financing cost of $3.2 million; the second was awarded as the sole bidder –without competition– in June of the same year, for $15.9 million, to build the so-called Sports Hall of Fame and Museum . Both contracts total $63.4 million and began to be executed at the beginning of the year.
“The appointment of the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken , has to do with the interest that the United States has in keeping corrupt people out of the American borders and wants to do it because these people undermine democracy.”
This is how the United States ambassador to Panama, Mari Carmen Aponte, pronounced this Monday, February 27, 2023, after Blinken announced on January 25 the appointment of the former president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal (2009-2014), and immediate family, “ for their participation in acts of significant corruption”.
Aponte offered similar statements to two television outlets: TVN Canal 2 and Telemetro Reporta . She said that “we have an interest in keeping, out and stopping anyone from entering United States territory” who commits corrupt acts.
“In the case of the former president [Martinelli Berrocal], he received bribes for improperly awarding government contracts while he was in charge of the country,” she said. “That is solely the reason for the designation”.
Did the United States consider Martinelli corrupt? she was asked. “That’s correct,” replied Aponte, who arrived in Panama last November to begin her diplomatic mission on the isthmus.
The Vice President of the Republic, José Gabriel Carrizo, presented, his candidacy to obtain the presidential candidacy of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in the primaries that this political group will hold on June 11″Long live Omar Torrijos, long live Nito Cortizo,” Carrizo shouted, after presenting his application at the PRD headquarters located on avenida Mexico.
Carrizo was the first to be nominated among the three who have so far announced that they will seek to be the PRD presidential standard-bearer. The other two are former deputy Pedro Miguel González and the president of the National Assembly, Crispiano Adames.
At least 33 people were apprehended in the early hours of this Tuesday, during the so-called “Operation Scorpion”, which had the objective of dismantling a group dedicated to drug trafficking.
This was reported by the Public Ministry, which explained that this network received drugs from Colombia and then stored, guarded and transported it to the border with Costa Rica and, through containers, they took it to the United States and Europe.
The operation, in conjunction with the National Police, was carried out simultaneously in various parts of the country: in the township of Ernesto Córdoba Campos in Panama City; in the district of San Miguelito; in West Panama, Darién and Chiriquí.
There were some 36 raids, and they captured the leaders of this criminal organization, detailed the Police.
They added that this group of people used the sectors of Chame, Coronado and Santa Clara, areas near the sea, as a reception center; Later, it mobilized the merchandise through double bottom vehicles to the district of San Miguelito.
Investigations against this criminal network began in January 2022, by the Drug Prosecutor’s Office.
There are more and more electric cars circulating in the country. To date there are 300 100% electric vehicles, 2,904 simple hybrids and 323 hybrids with plug-in recharging options.
Last year, 160 electric cars and 594 hybrids were sold, according to the Association of Automobile Distributors of Panama
Of the 3,529 new cars registered last January, 14 were electric and 63 hybrids.
The prices of the cheapest models vary from 9,000 dollars and 10,000 dollars, but depending on the characteristics of each model, the value can range between 45,000 dollars and 140,000 dollars.
As the entry of electric models into the Panamanian market has grown, the range of options to request financing for the purchase of these vehicles has also increased.
Local dealers and distributors at brands like Hyundai, BMW, Tesla, Mini Cooper, Audi, Dongfeng, Mercedes, Master Electric, Porsche, BYD, and Electron have electric models. Geely will launch a 100% electric model this year. Lincoln has a hybrid model the Corsair.
At the recent Expo E Movilidad, Banco General, Bac Credomatic and Caja de Ahorro presented financing plans to acquire these models, as well as solar panels and electric chargers.
In the case of Banco General, the plans for hybrid and electric cars have interest rates from 5.50% to 7%. Financing terms are 96 months, similar to that provided for combustion cars.
At BAC Credomatic they indicate that the rate depends on the client’s salary, but it averages 4.5% with a financing term of 108 months and a 10% down payment.
For its part, the Savings Bank is providing financing for cars and residential solar panels. The average rate for electric or hybrid cars is 4.5% with 84-month financing, and a 10% down payment is required.
For solar panels, the state bank is financing up to $20,000 at a rate of 4.5% for a maximum of 72 months. For a residence that consumes 500 kilowatt hours per month, it will be necessary to install 10 solar panels to meet that energy demand and the investment can be between 5,000 and 7,000 dollars.