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Panama’s President to Legislate by Decree for Next 2 Months

January 6, 2006

PANAMA CITY (EFE ) – Panamanian President Martín Torrijos will legislate by decree during the next two months, following congressional approval of a law Dec. 30 conceding him these powers.

 

According to a report posted Dec. 31 on the congressional Web site, legislators approved a bill “that concedes to the Executive Branch extraordinary powers to pass laws relating to (10) specific areas.” The final vote was 42 lawmakers in favor, 20 against. After the vote, Congress closed for vacation until March 1.

 

Using these powers, which the President requested this week, Torrijos will legislate the Creation of a Panama Canal Trust Fund for the Development of Infrastructures, to be funded with part of the surplus the Panama Canal Authority pays the Treasury.

 

He also is expected to reform laws governing the Free Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CLICAC), and the Public Services Regulatory Agency, institutions that have come in for a great deal of criticism.

 

Torrijos will also modify the present organic law of the National Institute for Professional Training (INAFORP), will promote the modernization of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and will provide the Panama National Bank with a regulatory system to improve its efficiency and competitivity. By the same token he will pass legislation that declares defunct the National Financial Corporation (COFINA) and the Bayano Corporation, state-run companies that have been inoperative for the past two years.

 

With regard to Panama’s civil service, he will give orders to “make the process of appointments more efficient, pass special laws providing for automatic salary adjustments, make rulings on appointments to the Supreme Court of Justice and on financial aid to members of public institutions such as the police.”

 

Approval of the measure means “the President will have discretionary powers to legislate during the two-month congressional recess, creating the legal framework the nation needs,” the web source said.

 

“When the recess ends, the Executive Branch will send these laws to Congress,” which can then approve or reject them, but may not modify them.

 

The government has a majority in Congress, with 45 of the 78 legislators, while the opposition is splintered by internal power struggles.

 

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