While many Panamanians are struggling to keep up with the increasing cost of living and the government is preaching austerity, the board of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) has awarded itself a near 300% increase in meeting allowances.
Every time the board meets, the state will have to shell out $5,600 in allowances to the eight directors. of as payment per meeting rocketing from $250 to $700.
Included in the bonanza are Minister of the Presidency, Demetrio Papadimitriu, the comptroller, Gioconda de Bianchini, the administrator of the Authority Roberto Linares, the president of the Maritime Chamber of Panama, Julio de La Lastra, and lawyer Ramon Ricardo Arosemena.
Last May, the National Assembly ratified Manuel Antonio Morales Diez as manager of the AMP replacing Luis Ramon Fabrega Sanchez, brother of the Vice Minister of the Presidency Maria Fabrega, who was appointed by President, Ricardo Martinelli, as a Supreme Court Judge.
The comptroller, Gioconda Torres de Bianchini, one of the beneficiaries with the increase of the allowances, and in turn is responsible for the proper management of public finances. Asked for a reaction by La Prensa, she refused to comment.
The administrator of the AMP, Roberto Linares, did not return calls, nor did the department spokesman Valerio Abrego.
Linares is one of the founders of the ruling party Democratic Change, and is currently a board member of the party.
The MPA in 2012, manages a budget of $170 million, but the increase defiesthe containment of spending recently announced by the Minister of Economy and Finance, Frank De Lima, as a measure to plug a budget gap of $405.3 million .
De Lima, in a statement, rejected the increases, arguing that he was not present at the meeting when it was approved. “This measure of allowance increases ... is not consistent with the policy of containment of public expenditure, recently announced" he said. Tthe Canal Affairs Minister Romulo Roux expressed similar opinions