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Corruption in Central America, and Panama's Transparency Agency (Antai)

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Transparency agency and Las Tablas butt heads

Maytin and Herrera at loggerheads
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THE MAYOR of Las Tablas is not happy with his town’s ranking in a transparency evaluation issued by  Panama’s Transparency and Access to Information Authority (Antai) and on Friday, Jan, 26 went to the institution’s office in the capital city to express his views.

What followed has further widened the gap between the municipality and the agency’s  director Angélica Maytín.

According to the Antai,  Mayor  Noé Iván Herrera, went to the offices with “aggressive behavior” and entered the upper office “without authorization, making claims in a disrespectful way, with defiant attitude and violating security “, while using  “inappropriate” words referring to Maytín.

The visit was the result of Herrera’s disagreement with Antai’s transparency evaluation of the Las Tablas municipality.

As part of its functions, the Antai periodically makes a measurement of the transparency of the websites of various institutions, public companies and municipalities.

The most recent report on the municipalities put  Las Tabl in the basement of the ranking with zero points, while Panama and La Chorrera took first place with 100 points.

“The staff in the upper office asked him to leave and he threatened go to the media, “said Antai, in a statement published  Saturday, Jan 27.

“We regret this type of behavior of an official who represents the highest authority of the municipality of Las Tablas, ” the statement said, adding that they are willing to receive complaints and denunciations “within the framework of respect”.

The mayor responded that he is being politically persecuted”, reports La Prensa.

“Since the Antai began to list the transparency of municipalities, Las Tablas has come in on three occasions as the municipality least transparent,” said  Herrera. He added that on the website of the municipality (lastablas.municipios.gob.pa) sits all the information of the spreadsheet and the projects that are carried out.

Herrera said that the official who attended him at the Antai  office had a defiant  attitude

defiant towards him, to which he did not respond because he is an authority.

He said that he will issue a statement on Monday to respond to Antai’s version of events.



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I was not aware that Panama has a governmental transparency agency. Now that I am aware of such, I am very curious as to how Odebrecht happened? How did Blue Apple happen? Etc., etc.

Or did this agency come to fruition after those corruption issues, and perhaps as a result of them?

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Panama public bodies fail transparency test

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NEARLY half of Panama’s public entities fail to comply with the transparency law that obliges them to publish key information on their websites says a recent report by the Transparency and Access to Information Authority (Antai).

According to the Antai, in January of this year, of a total of 122 institutions that have web pages 66 (54% comply with publishing on their sites 100% of the required public information.

Compared with the month of December, when 68 institutions had fulfilled 100%. the entities retreated in terms of transparency:

The report of the Antai highlights that only 18 institutions remain in the range of between 96% and 67% of compliance “which is still considered to be within the range and should improve”. The rest are below63% in compliance.



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I think Panama is making more than a token effort to reduce corruption, but it's still systemic. 

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Only 33% trust Panama government – OECD

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WHILE   The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has given Panama  a pat on the back  for adopting policies  directed towards transparency, a report issued on Monday, April 9 from the body’s headquarters in Paris  shows that that only 33% of Panamanians trusted the government  in 2016, a figure below the OECD average (37%).

Policies adopted  such as the reform of public procurement laws so that the administration be more transparent and competitive, or the new rules on transparency in management public, which provide for the openness and availability of information for the public got a positive rating in the report “Economic Perspectives of Latin America 2018” published jointly by the Development Center of the  OECD and  the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Andean Development Corporation (CAF).

The report, which portrays the perception that citizens have of the public institutions, concludes that  Panama  occupies one of the top positions in the list However, the report, which portrays the perception that citizens have of public institutions, concludes that only 33% of Panamanians trusted the government in 2016, a figure below the OECD average (37%) The average for Latin America is at 29%. With Mexico the lowest in the region with 28%.

The document highlights that Panama has improved over the past decade in relation to the government effectiveness, going from 0.06 in 2005 to 0.30 in 2015, on a scale between -2.5 and 2.5, according to the World Governance Indicators.



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Corruption in Central America: Perception or Reality?

In 2018, the perception of corruption in public institutions increased in all countries in the region, except Panama, where it remained the same as in 2017, and El Salvador, where it slightly decreased.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

As in previous years, Nicaragua's public sector continues to be considered the most corrupt in the region (level of transparency 25 on a scale of 0 to 100), followed by Guatemala (27), Honduras (29), El Salvador (35), Panama (37), and Costa Rica (56).

See: "Corruption as a Habit"

Transparency International stresses that "... With a 25 score, Nicaragua has lost four points in the CPI in the last seven years. This significant drop reflects the political landscape and recent events in the country. After more than a decade in power, President Daniel Ortega controls most of Nicaragua's democratic institutions, limiting their effectiveness and independence. In recent years, the President has also reduced the political rights of his citizens, who, despite facing violent repression, have taken to the streets in large numbers to protest his authoritarian government. Recently, several journalists and activists have been forced to leave the country because of threats they were receiving."

"... Despite still being at low levels, El Salvador, with 35 points, has improved 2 points from 2017. In this country, the judicial sector is promoting the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases committed by high-level individuals, including ex-presidents.

Also see: "What Central America is Losing Due to Corruption"

The report explains that in Guatemala President Jimmy Morales is one of the governments of the Americas that has a leadership that tends to "...

  • block free and independent media, especially when questioning leaders' messages
  • control and silence civil society and international organizations;
  • intensify the use of voting suppression and voter disqualification
  • use a language that is more xenophobic, racist and contrary to the LGTB collective.
  • make public promises based on simplistic and "hard hand" approaches to solving complex social problems
  • weaken the system of checks and balances and increase the power of the executive;
  • increase in conflicts of interest and private influence."

See Transparency International report for the Americas.



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Panama stuck in corruption index doldrums

Posted 01/02/2019
Panama remains in 37th position on the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 180 countries released by Berlin-based   Transparency International (TI) which has an active local chapter

The Index 2018. reveals a disturbing link between corruption and the health of democracies: countries with higher rates of corruption also have weaker democratic institutions and political rights.

The top and bottom of the index haven’t seen much change. Somalia, Syria and South Sudan have the lowest scores. Top performers include the Nordics – Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway – plus New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. These countries mostly have several democratic attributes in common that help them keep corruption in their public sectors under control.

But many of the countries have also been involved in major corruption scandals

Denmark, which tops the list this year, has been rocked by the revelations of massive money-laundering at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank, the country’s biggest lender Danske, is spending hundreds of millions to fix the problem. .

Switzerland – particularly its banks and other financial intermediaries – is a regular feature in stories about stolen public money finding its way out of countries around the world.

The CPI doesn’t measure private-sector corruption like money laundering, tax fraud, foreign bribery, financial secrecy or illicit flows of money. It also doesn’t look at individual corruption cases.



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