Wednesday 31st January 2024.

January 30, 2024


The administration of the Social Security Fund (CSS) finally delivered the financial statements for the year 2022 to its board of directors, thus revealing the uncontrollable deficit in the exclusively defined benefit subsystem at the close of that fiscal year. There are $654.5 million that could not be covered with all the income from the program and accounting for the contributions made by the central government.

The Press had access to the financial document in which it is expressly indicated that for the fiscal year that ended on December 1, 2022, the Disability, Old Age and Death (IVM) program , in its exclusively defined benefit component , showed a pronounced negative difference between income and expenses.

A year earlier, at the end of 2021, the subsystem showed a deficit of $464 million before accounting for the contributions that the State must make, which corresponded to the years 2018 and 2019. But after receiving the funds, the negative difference was $166 millions.

According to the most recent financial statements, in 2022, income from employee-employer quotas, which represent the largest injection of the program, totaled $1,250 million.

For its part, expenses and costs reached $2,166 million, allocated mainly to payments that must be made to retirees who are part of the program.

The problem is of extraordinary proportions when, technically, for every dollar that goes into worker-employer contributions, practically two dollars go out to pay pensions.

To understand where the deficit figures come from, we must also consider that in this program other financial income of $79.8 million was computed, in the form of interest generated by the bonds and loans made with IVM funds. This helps reduce the gap between expenses and income, but these contributions are negligible.

Computing these income, the difference between costs and expenses was $836.4 million, before the contributions that the State must make to ensure the sustainability of the program.

And once the State contributions were computed, for $146 million and income from previous fiscal periods for $35.2 million, the deficit landed at the figure of $654.5 million.

That is, total income of $1,511 million faced expenses of $2,166 million.

To cover the shortfall, the CSS uses the program’s savings or reserves, which according to the entity’s actuarial calculations must have already been exhausted.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) warned of the depletion of the total reserves of the subsystem in 2024 and the accelerated increase in the amount of new pensions will create strong pressure in the financing of the growing spending in the program.

The plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) decided not to admit the warning of unconstitutionality filed by former president Ricardo Martinelli against an article of the Judicial Code , because it considered that the warned rule does not affect the final definition of the process.

Furthermore, he maintains that there is no violation of Martinelli’s fundamental rights.

The warning of unconstitutionality was presented by Carlos Carrillo, Martinelli’s lawyer, against article 2439 of the Judicial Code, on the requirements to admit cassation appeals.

The ruling of the Court, dated January 22, 2024 and under the presentation of Judge Miriam Cheng Rosas , indicates that the article in question “is an adjective or procedural rule that guides the rituals prior to verifying compliance with the formalities. legal for the admission or not of the appeal, and does not affect the decision of the process.”

The plenary session warns that the appeal presented by Carrillo has another deficiency: the lack of a correct explanation of the concept of the infringement.

It is highlighted that the appeal focuses on the contrast between articles 2439 and 2440 of the Judicial Code , the latter being related to the possibility of correcting the appeal. However, not one of them has “constitutional nature.”

Cecilio Cedalise was the only judge who issued a saving vote, not agreeing with what was proposed by Miriam Cheng.

Cedalise is the only one who thinks that this ruling deviates from constant and reiterated criteria expressed by the Court, according to which it is possible to warn about the unconstitutionality of norms that are presented as procedural or procedural, as long as they contain subjective rights of the proponent, which which, in your opinion, occurs in this case.

So far, the Court and the First Court of Justice have resolved a total of 11 amparos of constitutional guarantees filed by Martinelli’s lawyers in the New Business case.

Panama is at one of its lowest points in the Corruption Perception Index 2023 (CPI2023) of Transparency International (TI) , released this Tuesday, January 30, 2024 in Berlin, Germany.

In the perception index (in which “0” is the most opaque score and “100” the most transparent), Panama obtained 35 points, dropping one point from its previous rating (which was in 2022) and now occupies the position 108 in a list of 180 countries evaluated.

In this way, Panama returns to the same score it had in 2013 and 2020 . Its best rating so far has been 39, which it obtained in the 2015 index.

The best positioned in the 2023 ranking are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, with 90, 87 and 85 points, respectively. The three worst in the world are Somalia (11 points) and Venezuela and Syria, both tied with 13 points.

Panama is the same as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Thailand, which also received 35 points.

At the regional level, the best qualified are Canada (76 points), Uruguay (73) and the United States and Barbados, tied with 69 points. The worst is Venezuela, followed by Haiti and Nicaragua, both with 13 points.

The transfer in pieces of the first train of line 3 of the Panama Metro began , a system that will connect the capital city with the province of Panama Oeste. The first two wagons are already in the yard and workshop area in Ciudad del Futuro, in the district of Arraiján, since the night of this Monday, January 29.

The next four cars (of a total of six that make up the train) will be transferred this Tuesday, January 30 and tomorrow, Wednesday, January 31, at night from 9:00 pm to 4:00 am, in accordance with the Management Plan. Traffic approved by the Land Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT).

The established route starts from the port of Manzanillo , in the province of Colón, and continues along Randolph Avenue towards the Madden-Colón highway, and then takes the North corridor and exits along Centenario road. Once on this road, you will head towards the Arraiján-La Chorrera highway, until the access to Hato Montaño, where you will enter the Pan-American highway heading to the yards and workshops in Ciudad del Futuro.

The Panama Metro, SA , reported that this first train passed factory tests in Japan and will be the first unit to be assembled in Panama.

The train is part of a fleet of 26 trains that will operate on Line 3, benefiting 500 thousand residents of the province of Panama Oeste. This train transfer process will extend until 2025, when the fleet of acquired monorails is completed.

This first unit will be subjected to a series of procedures ranging from assembly, through static and dynamic tests. These results, which will take several months, will serve as feedback for the other units that will continue their manufacturing process in Japan, detailed the Panama Metro.

At least five companies have shown interest in participating in the meeting to be held tomorrow by the Urban and Home Cleaning Authority (AAUD). The objective is to grant a concession, for a period of three years , the operation of the Cerro Patacón landfill .

For this service, the AAUD will pay $46.8 million, during the entire period of validity of the contract.

The entity called an information meeting for this Wednesday, January 31, with the purpose of “clarifying doubts” regarding the questions that may arise in relation to the contracting process.

The presentation of proposals is scheduled for next February 7.

At the moment, the companies that have expressed interest in receiving more information are Veolia, Panama Waste, Projects, Promo Ambiental and Ecotermo, according to a source from the AAUD.

Last week, the AAUD published on the Panama Compra portal an online quotation act to contract the operation, stabilization and “new trench” services at Cerro Patacón for three years, for $46.8 million .

The amount was segmented into three parts: for the landfill operation, the AAUD will pay $37.8 million ; for stabilizing the site, $4 million , and for installing a “new trench” (that is, opening a garbage pit), $5 million.

The AAUD will continue to be in charge of collecting garbage throughout the city and taking it to the landfill.

The Panama Fire Department reported that the new outbreaks of fires registered in the Cerro Patacón landfill, township of Ancón, were controlled around midnight yesterday, Monday.

Ángel Delgado , lieutenant colonel of the Firefighters, highlighted that regular personnel and volunteers managed to extinguish the two new outbreaks that caught fire and that, within the work, support was received from a truck from the Panama Canal Authority, which allowed pouring more water in the place.

“This Tuesday, inspections are being carried out and some heat points that remained, residue from the fire, are being cooled, and inspections are also being carried out at other points to see what the critical areas may be,” said Delgado.

The new fire outbreaks were reported this Monday afternoon. On Sunday, the Firefighters had announced that they managed to extinguish the two fires that were recorded since January 18 and took about 10 days to control.

Due to these fires, the Panama Fire Department and the Public Ministry are carrying out investigations to determine if they were caused.

For more than a week, with the fires of January 18, residents of the districts of San Miguelito and Panama, as well as Arraiján (Panama West) were affected by the emanation of contaminated smoke emanating from the landfill, a product of the fire.


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