Cabinet borrows $22 million for luxury jet for ....?

785Views 0Comments Posted 02/01/2010

Controversy is still swirling around the donation of $22 million to Panama by the government of Taiwan for a luxury jet. 
Rescue missions or presidential flights?Whether it will become a presidential carrier or search and rescue plane is up in the air.
The Cabinet Council has authorized the Civil Aviation Authority to obtain a $21.9 million loan from the National Bank of Panama to purchase an Embraer Legacy 600 being built by Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica, S.A
Taiwan pledged to provide funds for Panama to purchase a plane, but it has not yet delivered the money so  the government  obtained the loan. 
The jet will be purchased without going through a competitive bidding process.
Over $50 million has previously been spent on no bid ventures, in the interests of “saving time”. These  included the purchase of ambulances and the building of a clinic in Pacora by a newly registered company.
The Pacora project is on hold because the company failed to spell out details of its construction plans.
The Civil Aviation Authority, which will operate the aircraft, is allowed to circumvent the bidding process provided it has the approval of its board.
The Aviation Authority plans to cancel the bank loan once it receives the donation from Taiwan, which has previously provided $12 million to Panama to purchase a helicopter.
Since the new government came to power, Taiwan has donated over $40 million, seen by many as part of a diplomatic offensive to counter promises made by President Ricardo Martinelli during the election campaign that brought him to power.
He had said that he considered it necessary to establish long-term diplomatic relations with China.
There is still controversy surrounding the purchase, as Taiwan has stated its gift should be used for national emergencies and rescue efforts, while the luxury fitted jet ordered by the government is not suited for these missions.
The spacious main cabin is divided into three distinct areas. It has leather chairs, couches, shelves, and a large dining table
The size of the plane also means it can only land at three airports in Panama, in David, Colón and Tocumen, which will limit its use.
Through this grant, the Taiwan government cured the headache of the President, after suspending the purchase of a presidential jet following widespread negative reaction.
Since Martinelli took office Taiwanese diplomats have made numerous visits to Panama to make grants to institutions like the National Police, the Ministry of Government and Justice, the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Authority the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Public Works, and the Foreign Ministry.
This year 2009, Taiwan has made donations to Panama reached an amount of approximately $ 40 million.
The plane is for emergency rescues and not for use by President Ricardo Martinelli said Taiwan’s foreign Minister Timothy Yang.
Yang said that "this grant is part of our program of cooperation with Panama and not a diplomatic gift.”
Aviation specialists have warned that the aircraft could be used to search in maritime areas, but that is not its typical mission.

Two-time director of Civil Aviation, John Bennett, said the Legacy 600 executive jet is for long-range flights, including, intercontinental.

"The Legacy 600 needs a height of 5,500 feet to operate, he said.

The aircraft is valued at $ 22 million and can travel up to 6 thousand 19 kilometers without stopping.

Tthe Cabinet Council approved accepting the donation of a plane from Taiwan, saying it would be used for government transport and for social assistance.