PAN spends $12 million on instruments

The purchases are being investigated due to alleged cost overruns and questions about the quality of the instruments.


On Nov. 20, 2013, Comptroller Gioconda Torres de Bianchini approved a $4 million contract for the National Assistance Program (PAN) to provide musical instruments to public schools across the country.

The acquisition of these musical instruments, apparently, was not enough. Three months later, PAN Director Rafael Guardia Jaén awarded a $5 million contract for more instruments that was awarded to the company Country Max.

The PAN then spent another $3 million on instruments.

These contracts have raised questions due to alleged irregularities in them. 

For example, Country Max issued a proposal to sell instruments to the national police band. In that proposal, the prices of some of the instruments were hundreds of dollars less than the ones purchased by the PAN.

Two officials of Country Max, Margarita Santamaría and Luis Carlos Sánchez, are also involved in the company Digimart International, which received contracts for $7 million from the PAN for sports uniforms, bags of food and appliances.

Sixth Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Aurelio Vásquez yesterday conducted an inspection at the PAN headquarters to gather documentation on the instrument purchases.

The prosecutor declined to comment on specifics, saying: "Everything will come out in the audit report."

José Matías Muñoz, director of Art and Culture for the Ministry of Education, said that he has received complaints of the quality of the instruments from band directors.



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