Multi-million “National Emergency” purchase questioned

1,407Views 1Comments Posted 28/04/2020

Another multi-million dollar contract issued under the umbrella of the National [COVID-19],Emergency signed by a former vice president of the Presidency who resigned this week, has raised fresh concerns in an organized society.

A payment commitment document circulating on social networks, dated March 22, indicates that the delivery of 2.5 million bottles of alcohol gel,  costing$13.3 million was to be completed on April 20.

Researching public procurement. Panama Compra, La Prensa found nothing regarding the gel

The company from  which the Presidency allegedly promised to buy the gel bottles is Unión Logística, SA , chaired by Enrico Marcello Perrone, according to the Public Registry. The commercial reason of the company is " to provide the service of load in general". According to customs data, Unión Logística, SA has not imported alcohol gel says La Prensa.

The payment commitment refers to the delivery of 2.5million  bottles of 500 ml each, of alcohol-based gel with 70% alcohol-based in water. 

The circulating documents do not specify the brand of the products. According to the proposal, the first delivery of 200,000 bottles was due on March 31. In periodic deliveries from that date until April 20, the 2,500,000 bottles had to be delivered. According to the document, the last delivery was 800,000 bottles.

The payment commitment cites the  March 13 Executive Decree declaring  a state of national emergency, in the face of the spread of Covid-10 in Panama. The resolution declared that the Ministry of the Presidency is the entity in charge of managing public funds to face the emergency.

Both the payment commitment and the proposal have the signature of Juan Carlos Muñoz, vice-minister of the Presidency until April 27.

Muñoz resigned after it was revealed that he was the signatory of another payment commitment letter, for the acquisition of 100 AHP-300 fans for $5.2 million, at a price of  $48,950 apiece, to Muriba Company, Inc. The beneficiary company With the contract - which is not on the list of providers registered with the Ministry of Health.

While Muñoz was struggling to explain the purchase,  the Muriba Company Inc. informed the Presidency that it could not supply the equipment in the agreed time and blamed the manufacturing company.

Organized civil society has questioned the Executive body for not publishing purchases made in the framework of the national emergency in Panama Compra, since it makes it impossible to control public resources.

At a  Monday press conference Vice President and Minister of the Presidency, José Gabriel Carrizo, stated that they have not been disclosed because the documents are not available. Both Carrizo and President Laurentino Cortizo have repeatedly said that all purchases around the Covid-19 will eventually be audited by "renowned companies."

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