No lying, no cheating, no stealing should be the behavior of the new government of Cortizo, who in his first speech listed the actions to reactivate the economy. He called for justice and advanced the projects that he will send to the Assembly
Laurentino ‘Nito’ Cortizo approached the podium at the Anayansi Theater, at the Atlapa Convention Center, where he delivered his first speech as president of Panama, amid applause from more than three thousand guests.
Dressed in a black coat, a gray pearl tie that covered the presidential band, and a look at the audience, the premier summed up in thirty minutes the main challenges of the country that, according to his words, drags a decade of corruption, improvisation and robberies of the Panamanians’ money.
His phrases, full of hope and unity, enunciated the most urgent challenges.
The first is to clean up public finances. It is not the first time that this subject is put on the table. During the transition meetings, the minister of the portfolio, Hector Alexander, warned that he had received half of the public finances from the outgoing administration.
Cortizo promised to share with the people the reality of the numbers as soon as he had complete information. Similarly, he said he will present an Economic Reactivation Plan. This project aims to attract investments that generate jobs and promote the export of Panamanian products under the name of ‘ProPanamá’.
Cortizo listed specific issues that will promote in the coming months. Among these, he mentioned the operation of a Bank of Opportunities to promote entrepreneurship for young people and women; the launching of the Manos a la Obra program, aimed at the rehabilitation and maintenance of streets and roads, privileging these concessions to Panamanian companies.
The situation of the country motivated the new tenant of the Presidency to start a policy of saving and discipline in public spending. The first cuts will be reflected in travel and per diem by 50%.
Among other measures, the president will implement a reactivation of the construction industry, which has an extensive inventory sufficient to supply the market for the next six years. For this, he announced that he will extend the preferential interest in different sections for homes up to $ 180 thousand. Added to this step, welcomed the proposal of the real estate sector to promote a law of leasing (leasing) real estate to facilitate the acquisition of housing.
“We are already managing the financing for payments to suppliers and contractors,” he said, in an effort to calm the anxieties of the business sector that is owed more than $ 600 million.
The president said before more than 10 heads of state and 48 international delegations present at the event, which began more than three hours late – due to the delay that caused the choice of the Board of Directors of the National Assembly – that his country has been disrespected and mistreated, ‘until here, until today’.
He indicated that to counteract the inclusion of Panama in gray lists, will create the Unit for the Competitiveness of International Services whose objective will be to coordinate actions to keep Panama out of these lists and consolidate the territory as the best center for business, logistics and finance region of.
Panama has made enormous efforts to get rid of the gray lists of the Financial Action Task Force and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; However, last June it was included once again in the list of jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies to prevent money laundering.
Call to justice
Emphatically and firmly, the 66-year-old ruler demanded to restore justice for an effective one.
He referred to the much-contested justice of the country. One that during the administration Varela was used for the persecution, to arm files against its adversaries and that was controversial as far as the effectiveness in the investigation of files of high profile.
‘I was not elected as prosecutor, prosecutor, judge, magistrate or comptroller. For that reason, I reiterate: you owe it to the country and your own conscience, not to political or economic pressures, and less to me! “He exclaimed, surrounded by applause from the audience.
Fight against poverty
The sixth frontier is the conquest of Cortizo: the struggle for economic inequality. An imbalance that persists in the country of millions and billions, but that occupies the sixth place in the world with greater inequality.
He compared the way Panama managed to recover the interoceanic highway and the sovereignty of its territory 20 years ago. Mystique that originated under the command of the legend of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, General Omar Torrijos, which he called the fifth frontier.
Cortizo has drawn his: the fight against poverty. Today, he said, 777,000 Panamanians live in misery; of them, 450 thousand are children and adolescents.
Figures that entail a great responsibility as a government and as a society. “Populations with which there is no margin for indifference,” the president said.
He denied that the deaths in the districts are due to ‘lack of medicines, vaccines, medical attention, abandonment’.
“A country whose figures show economic growth but has tripled the debt in the last ten years,” stressed Cortizo.
This multidimensional country that is subdivided into five ‘Panamás’: the modern one, the one of the neighborhoods, the middle class, the rural one and the one of the regions. All of them waiting for the new government to act. “I’m optimistic, believe me I’m optimistic,” he professed before the theater full of visitors.
A new vision of public management, addressed to all the ministers and deputy ministers who accompanied him in the solemn act, was proposed by Cortizo. He enunciated four essential pillars to achieve the good government he promises.
With humility, he said he was the first worker in the country. One who pledges his word to work hard, strong, with organization and discipline, with a team aligned to respond to the call made by the country.
He appealed to the simplicity of his officials. To the vocation of service and being close to the people who chose them. He instructed public servants to treat people as people, to facilitate good investments, to serve others.
He innovated by requiring his ministers to comply with a code of conduct: not to lie, not cheat, not to steal and not tolerate whoever does it.
“Our action plan points out the direction of our government with 125 commitments in four pillars and one star: Rule of Law and Order, Justice and Law, and Fight against Poverty.” The one that accompanies these principles is education.
The latter, an urgent transformation in the list of pending tasks of the country.
Nothing simple, it will take a generation, but it must start under the incoming administration.
Teaching for Cortizo is recharged in giving students tools to think, learn to work in teams and solve problems.
As part of this initiative, the program ‘a glass of milk of national production’ will guarantee. As well as providing schools with national products to ‘study without hunger’.
He placed special emphasis on the prioritization of national interests over individuals. He warned that “no individual interest, political or economic, will be above national interests … And they are not negotiable!”.
The National Assembly will hear in July of several initiatives of the Executive. The reform of the Magna Carta is one of the most punctual. A promise unfulfilled by the administration of Juan Carlos Varela of which the government of Cortizo will have to take charge, which will take as a basis the document agreed upon at the National Concertation table.
A challenge for a country hopeful that the new constitutional order will be the key to break the vicious circles that feed the impunity and corruption of the nation.
He announced that he will present before the Legislative a project to boost foreign investment. It refers to the reform of the Public Procurement Law, with which it seeks to guarantee transparency and clear rules in the bids that the government promotes.
Currently, this process is marred by challenges and questions from companies that claim favoritism in the adjudication of large projects, even murky situations.
In addition to the above, a Law of Public-Private Partnerships will be managed to facilitate public works for development.
Finally, in a gentle tone and clear voice, he showed his human side. He got on par with any citizen. ‘I am the first of six brothers, husband of Yazmín, father of two children, son of an educator. I do not aspire to more than to have served the country, “he said.
Appealing to unity, he invited all sectors to join the government plan, to take on together the new challenge that he does not want to face alone.
Then he smiled, watched the audience and imagined the future of his administration. At the end of the day, he said that “it’s not how I got to the Presidency, but how I’m going to get out.”
In this same scenario, he outlined that he wants to recover national self-esteem, Panamanian pride, unity and hope for all.
The end of his words provoked an immediate reaction from those present who stood up to applaud him and he continued with the gesture, he walked across the stage as if he were part of the guests who applauded him leaving behind the annoyances that the assistants had manifested due to the lack of punctuality at the beginning of the act.
Lewis Navarro: ‘My unrestricted support for Cortizo’
“Not only do I maintain my unrestricted support for the management of ‘Nito’ Cortizo, but the country can know that Samuel Lewis Navarro can contribute something within his realities,” said former vice president of the Republic Samuel Lewis Navarro, who reiterated that its decline The appointment as minister for Canal Affairs was due to personal reasons.
The country needs the support of all Panamanians. Today begins a new path with new hopes that require ‘that we wear the same shirt,’ he said.
Lewis Navarro said that many needs must be addressed ‘as soon as possible’ and that these problems are faced not only with conviction, but with the work of all.
The former vice president referred to insecurity, lack of drinking water in some sectors, education, public health. “When we see the set of these basic things we understand that there is much to do and that is the commitment,” he said.