Request made to strengthen anti-corruption law


Discussion resumed Tuesday of proposed changes to the government procurement law that would include tougher sanctions on violations.

Representatives of civic organizations and business associations participated in the debate and warned about the need to strengthen the legal text so that it complies with the objective of combating corruption.

Foundation for the Development of Free Citizens Executive Chairman Carlos Gasnell said that reforms to attack corruption after it happens is not enough.

"That is just a band-aid. More should be done to prevent the evils that afflict procurement," he said.

Issues the reforms address include the lack of regulation of direct contracts and the automatic disqualification of a contract if a person or company connected to it has been convicted of corruption, which is currently limited to only decisions handed down in Panamanian courts.

Economy and Finance Committee Chairman Miguel Salas said that the proposals would eliminate abbreviated tenders and urgent procurement. He said those two issues "generate suspicion among the citizens." He also said it would require that consulting work be publicly bid and require more training for the staff involved in the contracting process.

The public consultation on the proposal will continue today with more than 40 people slated to speak.


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