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Education and Corruption Worry Business Leaders, and [Non-]Attempts in the Assembly to Fix the System; Civil and Political Discourse About Bringing Corruption Under Control

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Education, corruption worry business leaders

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Panama heading for top slot

AN EIGHT POINTS plunge in Panama’s  ranking by the World Economic Forum has set alarm bells ringing in the  Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

The decline is based on a study measuring 12 pillars, which include the quality of public institutions, infrastructure, health and education of the population.

“Of those great variables, the ones that most affect Panama are higher education and training, health and primary education, as well as work efficiency, “said the Chamber in a statement issued Sunday, October 1.

For members of the Chamber “the most alarming”  is that the analysis of the country’s standing “contrasts with the opinion of the citizens that in surveys reflects that education is not located among  the top five issues of greatest concern…”

“It is widely known that, at present, not only the quality of public education has not been addressed  but private education is going through an unprecedented crisis that aggravates the  problem for the country, “said the Chamber

The statement said that this is the time to change the model of education management and  to implement measurement and evaluations of teachers and schools that support salary compensation. Also the model

requires the implementation of a permanent training program for educators and administrators.

On September 27, Panama was listed among the 50 most competitive economies in the world. world, but lost eight positions compared to 2016 in the Global Economic Outlook Forum  Competitiveness Index

Panamanian executives surveyed by the Forum said that the bureaucracy, corruption and inadequate training of workers are three of the main obstacles to business in the country.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-4/education-corruption-drag-panama-competitiveness

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OPINION:  Anti-Corruption projects on ice

Posted on October 2, 2017 in Panama

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masters of delay in the National Assembly
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TheNational Assembly is keeping on ice at least six bills that would help  to prevent and combat corruption. Some of these initiatives have sat in subcommittees for more than two years including those promoted by some deputies and civil society. Imagine the situation of justice if the bill had been approved establishing a reward for those who reported acts of corruption. What would be the state of the prosecution of crimes if the codes had principles of imprescriptibly of these crimes, or removal of control of the property of those characters who appropriated state funds? It is very clear that the National Assembly has another legislative agenda that has nothing to do with the objective needs of the citizenship and the rule of law. The current MPs – with few exceptions – are more focused on seeking their re-election and the benefit for the political parties from which they come, than in favor of transparency and accountability. If they are not part of the solution, then they are part of the problem of the corruption… La Prensa, October 2

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/opinion-anti-corruption-projects-ice

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Panama 4th on Latin America bribery list

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PANAMA  sits  in fourth place alongside Venezuela in the list of Latin American countries prone to bribery according to a report released by  German based Transparency International (TI)  on  Monday October 9.

Mexico leads the dishonor roll.

The report “People and Corruption: Latin America and the Caribbean”  was produced, after interviewing more than 22,000 people in 20 countries in the region, showed that one in three people admitted to paying bribes  in basic public services in the last 12 months.

The general perception is that these practices are increasing, and governments do fight them with determination and that almost a third of those who denounce them suffer reprisals.

“The picture of the region is not positive because a large number of citizens think that the situation does not change or has worsened and because many people say that the government is not doing a good role,” said  Alejandro Salas, of IT for the Americas.

Mexico is the country where  the most respondents affirmed having paid bribes in the study period, with 51% of respondents, followed by Dominican Republic (46%), Peru (39%), Venezuela and Panama(38%).

At the other extreme of the region are Trinidad and Tobago (6 percent), Brazil (11 percent), Argentina (16 percent), Jamaica (21 percent) Chile ) and Costa Rica (24%).

Near the top are Honduras (33%), El Salvador (31%), Nicaragua (30%), Colombia (30%) Guatemala (28%), Ecuador

The differences between this IT survey and its popular Corruption Perceptions Index are mainly because it asks about the “personal experience” of ordinary people, while the latter questions experts.

IT president José Ugaz said that Latin Americans and Caribbean people are “being defrauded” by “their governments, their political class and the leaders of the private sector.”

“The Lava Jato case, which has had a tremendous impact on the region, shows that corruption is widespread. Bribery represents a way of getting rich for a few and a major obstacle to access to key public services, especially for the sectors more vulnerable, “he argued.

Public hospitals are the ones where most bribes have been forced to pay bribes (20%), followed by public schools (18%), identity documents offices (17%), police (16%), public water and electricity services (14%) and courts (12%).

Institutions and at the regional level, are are perceived as “all or almost all corrupt” by  47% of respondents local police (45%), the prime minister or president  (43%), judges and magistrates (40%), public employees (37%), entrepreneurs (36%) and religious In  Venezuela, 73% of the respondents consider that the police are highly corrupt, the highest percentage in the region, and that in Honduras, 56% of respondents said they had paid a bribe.

Salas points out that rich and poor are similarly affected by corruption, which in relative terms most affects people with lower incomes.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-4th-latin-america-bribery-list

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Panama Justice in Crisis – Business body

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AS PANAMA readied itself for the Independence Day celebrations, business leaders and civil society associations continued to deliver the “no to corruption and impunity” message voiced by a gathering of hundreds of protesters on Calle 50 on Tuesday, Oct 31.

During a ceremony held at the headquarters, of the  Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede), on Wednesday the group’s president  Héctor Cotes, said that the country’s justice system is in crisis and the voices of everyone need to be heard as people without justice are condemned to impunity and a bleak future.

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He said the citizen protest on Tuesday over the possibility that the cases of corruption and money laundering being investigated go unpunished.

was “a loud and clear message from the Panamanian people who will not tolerate more impunity or corruption.”

Similar messages, photos and videos appeared on social media.

Prosperity and Justice
“The Panama we want is the one where prosperity and justice reign,” said, Inocencio Galindo De Obarrio, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and  Agriculture.

“We aim  to correct with determination any act that tarnishes growth and our national identity, so that the image of the country transcends borders due to its dynamism competitiveness and transparency in the actions of its leaders, as well as in the management of all sectors to conserve Panama as a destination for economic and social development, “he added.

In recent days there have been multiple demonstrations calling for justice and a halt to corruption.

The protests have taken place after the Twelfth Court denied extending the time to the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office to continue investigating the Odebrecht bribery case

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-justice-crisis-business-group

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Panama – Money versus Justice

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Kenia Porcell
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Panama has become a country where the morality battle is between money and justice said Panama’s  Attorney General on Saturday, December 2  the World Day Against Corruption.

Kenia Porcell has been attacked by some civil society groups and politicians for alleged tardiness reiterated the judicial body’s commitment to “combat corruption which she described as the “most dirty and mean act in the range of crimes.  that affect our society”

“Let’s all unite as a country against corruption. Here we have  more good and honest people than those who break the law and  ethics, she said in one of the messages on the social network.

Panama is experiencing years of convulsion over the uncovering of dozens of alleged cases of corruption involving ex-employees, businessmen and individuals. The majority of those implicated are former government officials of ex- President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), many of them also linked to the Odebrecht bribery case, who mostly deny the accusations and denounce the investigation as political persecution on the part of the current president, Juan Carlos Varela says El Siglo.

Martinelli has been detained since June in a federal jail in Miami (USA), in an extradition process for a case of illegal wiretapping, one of about a dozen criminal cases opened against him by the Supreme Court of Panama.

“The fight that takes place in the prosecution of crime, its perpetrators and participants is metaphorically turning into the struggle of money versus justice,” said another message

Porcell has defended her impartiality and has asked for public patience with the argument that the times of justice are not the times of the media, which constantly report on the basis of leaks about high profile corruption cases.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-money-vs-justice-says-ag

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President Varela’s “historical responsibility”

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President  Juan Carlos Varela has the “historical” responsibility to correct what has been twisted under previous administrations and take a transcendental step in the struggle against corruption and impunity.

The statement came from Panama’s  Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIAP) on Sunday. December 12 and was related to the upcoming designation of two new Supreme Court judges.

The CCIAP also said in a press release, that the decision to postpone extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly until the second half of  December to deal with the important issue seems wrong.

“It requires sufficient time for analysis, and it should not be presumed that the National Assembly is going to simply to put the seal of approval to the candidates that are presented.

“The Legislative Body has the obligation to fulfill its function with strict adherence to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution; likewise, those who arrive at the position will be before the opportunity to honor such privilege with a performance that will bring them respect and gratitude,” says the communique.

President Varela must appoint the replacements of Judge Oydén Ortega and Jerónimo Mejía, whose terms expire  December 31. Ortega and Mejía were appointed in 2007 by the then president Martin Torrijos for a period of 10 years.

The appointment of the replacement of jailed Alejandro Moncada Luna is pending.

He was convicted by the Assembly in March 2015 for unjustified enrichment and falsification of documents.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/president-varelas-historical-responsibility

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MEDIA WATCH: Panama’s corruption conundrum

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Demonstration at Supreme Court
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A year ago, the US Department of Justice announced a judicial agreement with Odebrecht, in which the company pleaded guilty to paying bribes in Africa and America, including $59 million in Panama.

The recognized bribe went up to almost $90 million and, although the case is stuck in an appeal for breaking the Gordian knot imposed by Judge Lania Batista, judicial assistance and journalistic investigations

continue. Today we know that the ruling party received millions from Odebrecht, but the process to find out more is paralyzed in a court. On the other hand, the delaying tactics of the defenders impede the progress of the process and to this is added the complicity of judges and magistrates who with their failures – many based on mere formalities – they bury emblematic cases of corruption.

The worst thing is that, despite what we know, nothing is done to change things. The Public Contracting Law Public is still intact, and this allows corrupt companies to continue participating in bids. Already

we will see how deep they are entrenched with the biggest local corruption scandal, the Panama Lava Jato… LA PRENSA Dec.21

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/features/media-watch/media-watch-panamas-corruption-conundrum

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Blackmail, threats clientelism in judges’ debate

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Former president, Ernesto Balladares
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BLACKMAIL and threats have become part of what should be a sober and considered review by Panama lawmakers of the two candidates whose names have been put forward to replace two retiring Supreme Court Judges.

The opinion comes from former  president Ernesto Pérez Balladares  who spoke to media on Thursday, December 21 a day on which many opposition deputies failed  to put in an appearance at the National Assembly where they were to vet Ana Lucrecia Tovar and Zuleyka Moore for their role as magistrates of the Court. The PRD Balladares’ own party has instructed its Assembly caucus to reject the nominees, sight unseen.

Balladares said that the way judges are chosen has to be modified.

If “clientelism” rules negotiations will continue in the face of money or threats until the deputies comply with the purposes of the Executive, he said.

The current problem is not the candidates since he considers that they are capable people, but how the candidates are chosen.

He said that maybe we should add more filters for the election, which includes the participation of lawyers’ associations and that the power must be taken away from the President of the Republic, to make his own uninhibited picks.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/blackmail-threats-clientelism-judges-debate

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Business leaders on  justice, education, crime

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WITH an unspoken reference to the current debate over the choice of judges for Panama’s Supreme Court, and recent judicial decisions, the country’s leading business organization has called on the Executive to give priority to issues such as the separation of powers that allow the full independence of justice.

In its weekly bulletin The  Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (CCIAP)  asks the government of Juan Carlos Varela to ensure a climate of stability until the end of the mandate. It said:”The Executive must promote conditions to achieve the competitiveness that the country needs to show in the demanding international scenario, which calls for the strengthening of productive sectors such as industry and agriculture, the latter largely postponed in national development.”

They also warn that education continues to be a factor as an “indispensable requirement to achieve the goals that we propose as a society.”

Referring to the crisis that some hospitals face, the Chamber says that the sustained supply of medicines must be taken care of for the health of the population.

Security concerns
“An aspect that also significantly impacts the quality of life of citizens is insecurity, which is a problem to counteract with both energy and intelligence to attack common crimes such as theft and robbery and effectively fight criminal organizations.” , says the guild.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/business-leaders-justice-education-crime

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