Panama’s scandal ridden Fund for Social Investment, devised to help the poor, but used as a feeding trough by politicians, is to be closed.
Details of alleged thefts of money for use in election campaigns and for personal enrichment surfaced in an external audit, which was kept under wraps until La Prensa revealed details.
President Ricardo Martinelli did a flip flop one day after he had said the institution would not be closed, and said on Monday that the program would end.
"I'm going to create a new institution that is more transparent and has more controls," he said
Martinelli said that his previous statements were "misinterpreted," and that his administration has been contemplating closing the program for several days.
The program was devised for the country’s poorest citizens through grants and other aid, has been the subject of a number of claims of abuse of funds.
An external audit has revealed widespread fraud which may end up totaling more than $12 million.
Martinelli said any new program would have more safeguards to prevent abuses.