National Assembly “donations” ruled unconstitutional

A block on legislators' cookie jar
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THE “DONATIONS”  handed out by lawmakers in the  National Assembly are unconstitutional says  Panama’s Supreme Court.

The ruling came on Thursday March 16 when the Court  voided a decree of the Comptroller of the Republic issued in October 2016, which regulated the delivery of donations by deputies.

“The decree is unconstitutional, because it regulates a matter that is unconstitutional,” said Judge Harry Diaz, who wrote the majority decision.

In a letter dated March 6, Diaz  had warned that the Assembly has been delivering these donations without there being “any constitutional, legal, or regulatory provision.”

The ruling came after La Prensa published a series of articles that found that many of the $14 million in  donations made between July 2014 and December 2016 never reached the intended recipients. Linked to the donations were  “contracts” totaling some $68 million.

Comptroller Federico Humbert said in a statement that he supports the ban on donations, and will seek to expand the court’s ruling.

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