Budget juggling by consulates
PANAMA. The scandals over Panamanian consuls in different parts of the country continue. First irregularities were found in the consul...
PANAMA. The scandals over Panamanian consuls in different parts of the country continue. First irregularities were found in the consulates of Jakarta and Rotterdam with regarding money collected in revenues.
According to the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), the Piraeus consulate in Greece has for giving flags to ships, while the one in Naples, Italy has missed sending $500,000.
During a telephone conversation with the Piraeus consul, Fotis Takis said to La Estrella that the debt his office has with the AMP is product of him having to utilize $68,000 to pay for the severance of an employee and the other $25,000 were used to pay for the expenses of Panama’s participation in the Poseidonia Maritime Fair.
Taquis admitted using the money to pay for expenses he did not have a budget and said: “I am not running from my responsibilities and if I have to get the money from my own pocket I will.”
“There are occasions on which I have to take these sort of decisions to avoid a labor dispute. That was the reason I was obliged to use the revenue money to pay the employee,” said the consul.
He added that after an AMP audit he was cleared and the expenses were found to be justifiable.
After the audit, Frotis requested that the AMP writes off the debt of $101,644.30 against the Piraeus consulate.
The AMP has the power to take that decision, but the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the General Comptroller and the Ministry of Economy and Finance have the last word.
The AMP administrator, Fernando Solorzano said that currently auditors are looking into the accounts of the Piraeus consulate to determine how much money it owes to the government.
Solorzano said that in the case of Fotis Taquis, a great part of the debt correspond to payments made to the Greek Social Security Office which were the social security quotas of the consulate’s employees that were in arrears.
During 2008, the Piraeus consulate generated around $7 million in revenues, while in the first five months of 2009, it collected $3 million.
Fotis Taquis will cease to be consul in two weeks time and he wants the situation to be solved as soon as possible.
However, he feels it would not be fair for him to pay the money from his own pocket to be up to date with payments to the government, but he will wait for the decision of the government.