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The Government of Panama urged the customs officials who are now on strike for two days to demand payment of bonuses owed to them, to return to their work, while within 10 days an exit is sought.
The administrative officials of the National Customs Authority (ANA) press to demand the payment of this retribution for the collections obtained during this year, that the Comptroller General of the Republic (CGR) has said it cannot countersign because the collected retribution has been less than what has been achieved in the 2017 fiscal period.
The ANA asked the CGR to countersign the bonds for 6,328,103.54 dollars, to distribute among its officials, said the public spending entity in a public statement.
The Panamanian Minister of the Presidency, Jorge González, urged the customs workers "to return to their work immediately and to fulfill their responsibilities as public officials, for the welfare of the country."
The call made by González is addressed to the heads of the 147 customs precincts and to all the officials of the Customs Authority.
"It is not justified to affect the economy of the country and our logistics center while agreements are reached," said the minister, who assured that the government "has established a maximum date of 10 days to solve the situation through dialogue."
The Comptroller’s Office noted that in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Law, and given that Customs collections in 2018 were "significantly lower" than those collected in 2017, "the bond requested by the National Customs Authority cannot be countersigned".
The CGR clarified that "it does not have to manage bonds for any State institution, our only work is to make sure that the institutions that request bonds do it within the framework of the law".
"Unfortunately, Article 282 (of the Budget Law of 2018) does not allow endorsement of the bonus requested by the Customs Authority, because doing so would be in breach of the Law," said Comptroller Federico Humbert, according to official information.
Spokesmen of the officials told reporters that more than 1,700 of their colleagues receive this benefit established in the Organic Law of Customs.
The strike staged by the customs workers, which is now on its second day, began on Thursday and in its first 24 hours it paralyzed the entry and exit of cargo through the customs post of Paso Canoas, on the border of Panama with Costa Rica.
The strike is held at a time when the commercial movement begins to intensify on the occasion of the end of the year festivities.
The Association of Users of the Colon Free Zone (AUZLC) said Thursday in a statement that "the Government cannot thwart the faithful development of customs functions by internal administrative issues of the Government."
"This type of conflict results in a decline in the global competitiveness indexes, which measure the resources and capacities to provide sustainable levels of economic prosperity," said the president of the AUZLC, Daniel Rojas.