Transparency watchdog short changed

588Views 0Comments Posted 09/09/2015

PANAMA’S Transparency and Access to Information watchdog (Antai) is fighting to increase its budget for the year 2016 after it was slashed byr $232,000 to $2.9 million while  the number of complaints handled is rocketing.

 Angelica Maytín, the authority’s director faced off on Wesnesday, September 9 with the Budget Committee of the National Assembly.
She explained that with the requested budget it was planned to open an office in Veraguas, hire eight officials, including two forensic auditors and ageneral secretary, and create a department of planning and direction of transparency and access to information.
She pointed out that the agency has only one forensic auditor who cannot handle the more than 180 complaints that have been filed.
"In one year we have had 180 complaints.Last year the agency handled only 53 complaints and perhaps we will have more than 200 processes later this year and with one forensic auditor that will not be manageable," she said.
She said that when she assumed the leadership of the institution, which was in charge of Abigail Benzadón, she found about 40 vacancies and has filled these positions due to the large amount of work to be performed.
“We found last December that the Antai was almost a ghost office, no staff, no equipment and there was a lot to do to restructure the conditions for the work you have to do "she said