Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said today that he is waiting for the opinion of the legal team of the Presidency to define whether to sign a bill approved by Parliament (AN) that establishes an increase in pensions and retirements.
"We have to first see the evaluation of the legal team of the Presidency," responded the president when asked if he will sanction Bill 631 approved on October 17 by the AN, which has a large opposition majority.
At least two business associations in Panama have publicly asked Varela to veto the legislative project, which establishes that an increase of between 30 and 60 dollars in pensions and retirements and that it be financed with new taxes.
"What the bill aims to achieve", which is a rise in pensions and retirements "is good (...) who wouldn’t want to sign that bill? But we must see the big picture (...) we have to evaluate whether the bill is possible," said the Panamanian president.
Last week, both the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE) and the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) called for the project to be vetoed by the Government.
Both unions recognized the need to improve social assistance to retirees and pensioners, not only in terms of payments but also in the system of care model, but condemned that the AN has legislated on the application of new taxes without first making a broad consultation and a diagnosis of the impact of that measure on the economy.
"The hasty way in which the bill was approved makes us reflect on whether the final objective on the part of the deputies is only to regain the approval of the electorate before the imminent electoral process and their re-election aspirations," APADE said in a statement.
Panama will hold general elections in May 2019 and a civil society-driven campaign calling for the "non-re-election" of legislators has taken shape, at a time when the AN is the target of criticism and investigations due to the opacity in the management of its finances.