Wednesday 24th January 2024.
January 23, 2024
At least two complaints have been filed in recent days against the Minister of the Environment, Milciades Concepción, who has held office since July 1, 2019, when President Laurentino Cortizo assumed the Presidency.
The most recent criminal complaint in which Concepción is mentioned was presented yesterday Monday by the Environmental Incidence Center (CIAM) due to the poor management of the Cerro Patacón garbage dump, the current scene of a fire that has now been going on for four days. The complaint is also against the administrator of the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority, Rafael Prado and the Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre.
In another complaint filed last week, Concepción is asked to be “condemned” for the alleged crime of violating the duties of a public servant, arguing his lack of inspection of Minera Panamá for two years and the approval of the Environmental Adequacy and Management Program. (PAMA) for the extraction of gold without the company having a concession.
One of the complaints also requests that Concepción be held responsible for possible environmental damage, imposing civil sanctions.
Concepción approved Minera Panamá’s PAMA, despite knowing that the Ministry of Commerce and Industries had indicated that, to carry out gold extraction, the mining company had to request a new concession. Furthermore, this information should have been known to Concepción in advance, since he participated as one of the negotiators of the contract-law with the mining company that was signed last October.
The General Directorate of Income (DGI) warned that any company that provides goods and services to political parties and freely nominated candidates, as well as any commercial transaction that appears in the income and expense reports presented to the Electoral Tribunal (TE), must be registered in the Electronic Billing System.
This is stated in a resolution adopted on January 17, 2024, in which the DGI also informs the TE of this new procedure.
The DGI, in parallel, emphasizes that “any request procedure for justification of exceptional use of fiscal equipment and the Electronic Invoicing System must be presented to the DGI.”
According to the general director of Revenue, Publio De Gracia , all suppliers of goods and services for the campaigns of political parties or candidates for free nomination “that are paid with public financing”, are required to document these transactions through a Electronic bill.
The measure is implemented “in order to continue strengthening the Electronic Billing System of Panama ” and therefore considers it necessary to establish that commercial transactions and suppliers of goods and services of electoral campaigns appear in the income and expense reports that appear before the Electoral Tribunal.
The Cerro Patacón landfill , in the town of Ancón, has been described by environmentalists and the authorities themselves as an environmental disaster. The last fire at this site impacted a large part of Panama City and San Miguelito.
In the midst of this crisis related to the issue of waste is the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority (AAUD), which was created during the government of Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) with the promise of achieving efficiency in collection. of garbage. However, the plans remained on paper.
At the moment, there is no concrete solution to this problem, but the majority of the candidates for mayor of the district of Panama have some proposals to address this reality. As will be remembered before 2014, the Municipality of Panama was in charge of this issue.
Guillermo Bermúdez, candidate of the alliance between the Democratic Change and Panameñista parties, stressed that his plan includes the creation of two plants to process waste from the eastern and northern areas of Panama City.
“We must begin to close Patacón Hill. And yes, there are many things that can be done with garbage and it cannot be that the Executive and Legislative authorities do not care,” he said.
For his part, Mayer Mizrachi, who was nominated by the Popular Party, described the landfill as the worst environmental crisis in the country. Just as Patacón Hill detailed that there are another 80 open-air waste disposal centers.
Their proposal involves working on a national plan for waste management, since what happens in Patacón extends throughout Panama.
The mayoral candidate for the free nomination and from the Other Path Movement (MOCA), Edison Bronce, also referred to this topic, who assured that he will promote an aggressive composting and recycling plan in the mayor’s office. “This will help ensure that this waste does not end up in Cerro Patacón,” he pointed out.
Broce recalled that as a deputy he presented an initiative to transfer the collection, transportation and disposal of waste to the municipality. “They never adopted it, but we will insist now and in the next five years,” he added.
The also deputy and candidate for mayor for the collation made up of the Realizing Goals and Alliance parties, Sergio Gálvez, pointed out that the Patacón hill “collapsed” and now a great campaign must be carried out between the AAUD and the Municipality of Panama for it to be done a waste treatment plant.
“Garbage is money and can become a business for the country, while what cannot be recycled must be incinerated,” he said.
Raúl Ricardo Rodríguez, who was nominated by the Social Independent Alternative Party (PAIS), indicated that his plan involves closing the current landfill, sealing it, beginning to sanitize and decontaminate the area.
In addition, he referred to building plants to treat and convert garbage into products such as energy, fertilizer, compost, among others. “We must recycle, reuse and reduce all waste we find,” he added.
In this regard, Iván Blasser, candidate for mayor through free nomination, indicates that the municipalities are the ones that have jurisdiction over waste management. “The only way to solve the problem is by using the concept of the three Rs: reduce, recycle and reuse,” he concluded.
An attempt was made to obtain a proposal from the current mayor, José Luis Fábrega, who was nominated by the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena), but he did not respond to questions from La Prensa .
The Venezuelan airline Laser announced that it will temporarily suspend flights between Panama City and Caracas, starting February 1st.
Through an email, Laser indicated that those passengers with a travel plan before the aforementioned date will be able to continue with the regular process, but those who will be affected by the suspension of operations may request a credit note valid for one year. , to be used on any of the routes operated by Laser Airlines such as Colombia, Curacao and the Dominican Republic.
In 2023, this airline transported between Caracas and Panama City round trip on 3 flights that operated 9,433 passengers. In December, 664 passengers traveled between both destinations with the Laser airline.
The airline has focused more on the Venezuelan domestic market and on the route to the Dominican Republic, where it expanded the connection center that also operates flights to Miami through the airline Red Air, in which Laser has approximately 49% of the shareholding and 51%. % are from Dominican businessmen.
Until December, flights operated between Venezuela and Panama, Copa Airlines, which is still in the market with 5 destinations (Caracas, Valencia, Barquisimeto, Barcelona and Maracaibo), as well as La Venezolana, Turpial Airlines and Laser, which announced the temporary suspension of flights from The first of february.
The Estelar airline suspended operations in the middle of last year between Caracas and Panama City and Avior abandoned the route in April 2022.
Rutaca, another Venezuelan airline, since August 2023 has been carrying out some specific flights between Puerto Ordaz, in the Bolívar state in Venezuela, with a stopover in Maracaibo.
This Monday, the rice producers of Chiriquí took to the streets to demonstrate about the lack of payments of $100 million dollars as part of the compensation for the 2023-2024 planting cycle, according to Gabriel Araúz, president of the Association, told several media outlets. of Arroceros Chiricanos (APACH).
“There is a delay of more than $100 million and there is also discontent because we do not know what will happen with the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and we do not know what will happen with the marketing of rice this year,” said Araúz.
He argued that if the debt persists, the planting is at risk. “The commercial houses are owed and this year’s planting is at risk,” he warned.
Araúz also said that they are concerned about uncontrolled imports and that it may be a transgenic grain.
Given this complaint, the Ministry of Agricultural Development sent a statement in which they assure that they are up to date with payments to the rice producers of Chiriquí.
Minister Augusto Valderrama said that they have made payments for the Price Compensation program for the production of corn, milk and especially rice, to which all 2023 production was paid for an approximate amount of $132 million.
The official assured that a report from the National Directorate of Incentives and Trusts (Dinifi) of MIDA details that a total of $453.8 million has been paid to rice, corn and milk producers throughout the country, from 2019 to date.
In the case of rice alone, they specify that in the last four years producers have received $378.2 million in compensation.
For the 2023-2024 period, the minister reported that producers have been paid $2.6 million but that there are an additional $21 million in process for the start of the payment process, corresponding to 265 files.
According to MIDA, the importation of rice has not been allowed.