Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela today requested the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) collaboration to execute a transparency protocol in public works investments executed by the country.
"More importantly, we need to build and design a protocol to leave a legacy of commitment to transparency against corruption, but protecting the innocent," he said during the First Forum to Strengthen the Regional Dialogue on Transparency in Investment and Infrastructure Projects.
The president who attended the event with businesspeople, politicians and other organizations said it is time to "assess" the actions of Panama and the Latin American region in the fight against corruption affecting millions of inhabitants of the continent.
"Corruption fuels inequality and organized crime; in recent years Latin America has been shaken by corruption scandals, tarnishing the image of politics and affecting the hemisphere's strongest economies," Varela said.
The president said that Latin American leaders must work together to raise awareness against the scourge and eliminate it from the State political and administrative system, as well as strengthen the oversight and judicial function.
He referred to the previous administration of former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), where he argues that in his administration he had to receive and detect contracted companies that participated in irregular practices, as well as disadvantageous contracts for the State, and millions of dollars in risk works.
"Whoever thinks that the fight against corruption has ended is wrong, it is a difficult and long road; the most important thing for us is to protect society and the people who are waiting for their projects, since failing to make the right decisions could affect them," said Varela.
Recently, high-profile corruption cases affected the country, where the alleged cost overruns in infrastructure projects were investigated, such as the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
This company committed in November 2017 to pay the Panamanian State in 12 years 220 million dollars as a fine, of which it has already deposited 10 million, as part of an "effective collaboration agreement" with the Prosecutor's Office that includes the file of the case against the construction company in the Central American country.
The head of state emphasized that the country invested 7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in public infrastructure since 2014, amounting some 12,000 million dollars in projects.
The event had the participation of the president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Luis Alberto Moreno exposing several examples of corruption that affect and paralyze public works.
"In almost half of the countries in the region there are ongoing investigations for corruption in public works projects, besides a significant number of politicians and construction entrepreneurs who are serving criminal proceedings, and several of them are convicted," said Moreno.