Temas Especiales

23 de Apr de 2021


Change is in the air, ’bye botellas

The man who promised and campaigned on CHANGE, has taken office and is up and running. Welcome President Ricardo Martinelli , and welcom...

The man who promised and campaigned on CHANGE, has taken office and is up and running. Welcome President Ricardo Martinelli , and welcome to some of the first changes he has introduced. Members of the National Assembly must be reeling to discover that they will actually have to turn up for work to get paid, will get no bonus handouts for special meetings, and those botellas filled by hangers on and relatives will be gone.

All this to help cut $20 million from the Assembly budget to pay for the long overdue raises for police and other public services. For change to become really effective, the well paid elected few have to lead by example and create a society where corruption and kickbacks are not accepted as a way of life. Previous leaders have made promises which went unfulfilled. We all remember the mantra: more security, zero corruption, more jobs. This president has pointed the way and shaken up some of those who have fought to enter office to help pad their bank balances.

We hope that the message is sinking and that deputies will now find or make time to be available to meet with their constituents and answer their needs, rather than relying on botellas to garner support in the next election. We hope too that enforced incarceration at their assembly desks will not have deputies dozing off, text messaging or playing games on their cell phones. PAY ATTENTION. You will be on camera.

RACE TRACK. The race track that runs through Cinta Costera, got it’s first major slowdown on Inauguration Day as cars streamed from the Presidential Palace to the ceremonies at ATLAPA. But the next day things heated up as drivers who had become accustomed to the new directional signs accelerated, and drove at dizzying speeds, ignoring give way warnings. Speed kills, and when the accidents start to happen they could be horrendous.

So we hope that the Transit Police, with their 25 percent pay raise, will be around to help fill up the government coffers by enforcing traffic and no parking regulations. They seem to have got off to a good start on the first full day of work for President Martinelli. Cars illegally parked around the National Hospital on Ave. Cuba, got early morning tickets, firmly affixed to the windshields. Some law flouters were not amused, including doctors.

A note for the wise: the hospital has largely empty parking lots on either side of the hospital. If you can’t afford the miniscule price of parking legally, get rid of your gas guzzler and buy a smaller more environmentally friendly car, and use the money you save on gas to pay for parking ? or another ticket.

A CASH-LESS SOCIETY. Remember all the talk a few years back about our move to a cash-less society? Well if it’s arriving elsewhere, Panama is not yet ready. How would you reward the bien cuidado for example? And there are still some public agencies that refuse payment by credit card. So, every now and then I pay a visit to an ATM to get a few dollars for emergencies.

My recent experiences at HSBC machines led me to wonder what is happening with one of the world’s biggest banks? One machine, inside a hospital has, on three different occasions, informed me that the machine is not dispensing cash. This AFTER going through the routine of punching in the language of choice, the ID number, how much I wanted to withdraw, which account it comes from, and whether or not I want a record of the transaction. After all this, as you wait for the rustle of bills being counted, a long pause, and then the message, no cash.

Seems to me that elsewhere that message comes on the screen before you insert your card. Is it only HSBC? According to friends who previously banked with Banistmo (recently taken over by HSBC), they and other are switching banks because of computer problems and horrendous delays in reaching a live teller inside branches.