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Austerity plan follows 10 days of discontent

(MENAFN-Panama Newsroom)

After 10 days of strikes, multiple road closures and widespread dissatisfaction with the high cost of living, corruption and waste in the various state bodies and corruption, the government of President Laurentino Cortizo announced a series of measures to halt the country’s descent into chaos. .

After a session of the Council of Ministers, during which the price ceilings for products in the basic basket were announced, among other measures including a 10-point “austerity plan” which provides for a 10% reduction in the mass State salary (without specifying whether this percentage is in the number of civil servants or in salaries); a voluntary retirement program for public sector employees; the suspension of salary increases, except those established by law; the restriction of allocations of new mobile phones; the prohibition to travel to attend congresses, courses or invitations, except in the case of official representation of the country or as a member of an international organization. The government has promised that “only travel abroad for official missions will be authorized”.

The measures also provide that no minister, deputy minister, director or deputy director of an executive may travel abroad accompanied by protocol staff or a press team unless the nature of the official mission requires it.

In addition, no type of travel expenses will be reimbursed in addition to those previously established and authorized by the Ministry of the Presidency. Similarly, no official car will be able to load fuel on Fridays, and civil servants who are members of boards of directors will not charge per diem.

Until last April, reports La Prensa, the government had more than 249,000 civil servants, which represents an expenditure of 404.7 million dollars per month. That’s $15 million more than in 2021, when the government was paying $389.6 million in salaries per month.

A massive march took place in the capital on Tuesday afternoon, the culmination of 10 days of protests in which unions of educators, student groups, workers and citizens took to the streets and avenues from the country.

In the capital, the scene took place in Plaza 5 de Mayo, near the National Assembly, where protesters chanted proclamations against the high cost of living and government waste in a time of severe economic crisis.

At 6:00 p.m., a group overthrew several structures that protected the National Assembly. At the same time, a massive march took place in La Chorrera. Those present were shouting phrases against the high cost of living, to the sound of murgas and drums. Some carried a stool, perhaps to remind Cortizo of the promise he made in July 2019, when he arrived at the presidential palace and made his promises to the people, sitting on a stool.


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