Wednesday 22nd may 2024.

May 21, 2024


The lawsuit presented by Alejandro Pérez , candidate for deputy for the Realizing Goals (RM) party , through which he requests the annulment of the election and the proclamation of the deputies who were elected in the 8-4 circuit, has a clear objective: to reduce the strength of the independent group in the National Assembly.

As will be remembered, on May 9, four days after the elections, it was determined that the five seats in the 8-4 circuit would be awarded to Roberto Zúñiga and Jorge Bloise, from the independent Vamos coalition; Javier Sucre , of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD); and Ernesto Cedeño and Grace Hernández , from the Other Way Movement (MOCA).

This is a group in which four of the five elected deputies share, in some way, the same objectives regarding the National Assembly. With the exception of Sucre, representatives of the Vamos coalition and MOCA have already held meetings.

For example, this Sunday was the first. Although an alliance was not finalized at the meeting, José Pérez Barboni, MOCA deputy for the 8-3 circuit, indicated that there is also the possibility that they support the independent bench with votes and initiatives.

“We don’t feel pressure because we know that the good guys are going to end up joining forces, even if it’s at the last minute,” he said.

It turns out that, if this challenge is not decided before July 1, when the first legislative period begins, both the Vamos coalition and MOCA would have four fewer deputies in the legislative branch, which would affect them in the voting process to elect the new board of directors of the National Assembly.

This is because by challenging the proclamation, the five elected deputies are being challenged.

Faced with this, the independent deputy Juan Diego Vásquez stressed that the right to challenge an election is legitimate, if the evidence exists, but what can never be legitimate is that said processes violate the popular will and affect the installation of the Assembly.

In addition, he called on the Electoral Court: “The Electoral Court must give urgency to the processes.”

Through a statement, Pérez stated that he “was forced” to take this action because the seat “was fraudulently snatched” through irregularities in the electoral count.

However, during the days of vote counting and in response to Pérez’s claims, the president of the 8-4 circuit scrutiny board, Mario Díaz, stated at the time that “there are no inconsistencies here, and there have not been any. Here is all the data that has been needed, has been obtained, has been requested, has been sought.”

The Vice Minister of Finance, Jorge Almengor, indicated that the Government is in the process of accounting for all of the debt and transfers that will remain pending to be paid to its suppliers when the current presidential term ends, on June 30.

The official assures that the highest amount corresponds to the 1,350 million dollars owed to the Panama Savings Fund, corresponding to the transfers that the Government had to make in concept of the surpluses of the Panama Canal.

The Government tried, before the May 5 elections, to get the National Assembly to approve a remission of the transfers corresponding to the years 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023; However, the project did not find support among deputies.

Although there is still no final figure, Almengor assures that the global amount will be less than the 1,836 million dollars that the administration of President Laurentino Cortizo found when he took over the reins of the country in July 2019.

Regarding the transition process with the authorities appointed by President José Raúl Mulino, Almengor commented that, unlike the previous change of government, the current administration will provide “quality information” regarding public finances.

The official also spoke about the increase in debt, which at the end of April reached 50,541 million dollars.

The increase in debt is more than $5 billion compared to April 2023. In this sense, Almengor once again justified itself with the pandemic.

He said that 65% of the amount requested in the current administration was affected by the coronavirus respiratory pandemic (COVID-19) and said that the next government would have to implement a liability management plan to reduce the cost of the debt, which has an impact on the budget.

When the Cortizo administration took over the reins of the country, on July 1, 2019, the balance of the total debt reached $28,585 million.

When comparing this figure with the data from last April, an increase of 76% in the total balance is reflected. The appointed Minister of Economy, Felipe Chapman, has indicated that during his administration no debt will be requested to cover the payment of interest and he assures.

He assured that the goal is to reduce financing costs for both the government, companies and individuals. Likewise, it will work on a five-year plan that is sustainable, credible and achievable. “That allows us to comply with the Fiscal Social Responsibility Law.”

Economic indicators point to a strengthened banking system in the country. However, despite this, interest rates during 2023 increased by 6% and in 2024 the increase is expected to continue, as explained by the Superintendency of Banks of Panama (SBP) in its annual financial stability report.

Raúl Guizado, president of the board of directors of the Banking Association of Panama (ABP), recalled that the reference rate in Panama is directly linked to the interest rate of the United States Federal Reserve, which currently stands between 5.25% and 5.50%.

“It was expected that at the beginning of this year that interest rate was going to begin to fall, which has not happened and the reason why it has not happened is because inflation is still not controlled in the United States,” Guizado emphasized.

For Panama, which uses the US dollar as legal tender, these changes in the Federal Reserve’s interest rates have a delayed impact. For this reason, upward adjustments are still being made in national interest rates, as Guizado explained.

For his part, the superintendent of banks, Amauri Castillo, expressed that despite the projections and forecasts that were in place, Panama managed to be one of the countries with the highest economic growth, standing at 7.3%, compared to countries like Brazil and Mexico, whose economies grew only 3.1% and 3.4% respectively.

Castillo reaffirmed that the behavior of interest rates depends greatly on the United States as it is a “dollarized economy.” “We see in the future, at least, a temporary stabilization of interest rates so that, perhaps, at the beginning of next year, we can already begin to see some type of reduction in interest rates,” he noted.

“The messages that the new president has sent have somehow generated a lot of confidence in international markets and in the local market,” Castillo urged the challenge that the next administration has to create favorable conditions for foreign direct investment and local investment.

The outgoing mayor of San Miguelito, Héctor Valdés Carrasquilla , has not yet provided the breakdown of financial and budget information that Irma Hernández, the district’s newly elected mayor, has demanded.

This was announced by Hernández in an interview on the television program Cuarto Poder, after days ago he had reported that he was demanding details of the budget execution, the entity’s debts with the Social Security Fund (CSS) and the detailed report of the payroll, to know the number of officials, their salaries, education levels, attendance records and reports of people with disabilities.

This data is supposed to be immediately within the reach of municipal authorities, so its delivery should not be slowed down.

In that sense, Hernández specified that there is a lot of information that is not accessible through the Internet; The forms present inaccuracies and “we are looking for exact budgets because we need to know how much we are going to have,” he said in the interview, while describing the high risk of finding a weakened municipal entity, “which financially will not have the liquidity it needs even to sustain itself.” ”.

Hernández described, in advance, the situation as receiving a “bankrupt company.”

The Municipality of San Miguelito faces, for example, a debt of $4.1 million with the CSS, for not paying the worker-employer fee.

When last April La Prensa published the list of community boards and municipalities with delinquencies in the CSS, the San Miguelito authorities indicated that the officials received their “net salary.”

If so, it must be assumed that the deductions from the worker-employer fee are made, but this money is not allocated to the CSS.

Carrasquilla has a history of not making payments. In the past he has faced several protests from San Miguelito officials over this issue.

Hernández, for his part, highlighted the importance of recovering credibility in fundraising, ensuring that all income is recorded clearly and digitally, avoiding any irregular and under-the-table management.

In front of the houses of the residents of Barrio Colón, in La Chorrera , workers from the municipality of that district of Panamá Oeste are building a cycle path that will end at the El Chorro tourist center.

So far they have advanced with the first 700 linear meters. This is the first stage of this work promoted by the Mayor’s Office of La Chorrera.

However, in recent hours it has been the target of criticism for its design.

“It looks like a BMX track,” user Jaime Cohen commented on Instagram.

The project, which has already been largely painted, is shaped like an obstacle course for BMX bike professionals, with the characteristic design that requires the user to go up and down a small slope. “I will wear a motorcycle helmet to go to the store,” commented Aldair Castillo, another user of the social network. “It looks like Super Mario level,” Aníbal Ríos added from his account.

According to the Mayor’s Office of La Chorrera, the first part of the cycle path is about 800 meters and its construction is financed with decentralization funds. The cost: $48,812.

For the Road Education Foundation , the design of a cycle path must be safe, comfortable and inclusive.

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