Panamanian Church Takes Government to Task

PANAMA CITY, Panama, MAR. 12, 2001 ( The Catholic Church in Panama has called on the government to render a clear account of its performance.

There is a prevailing image of “lack of transparency and confidence in those who must render account and give satisfactory explanations to the people,” says the editorial in the latest issue of the weekly newspaper Panorama Catolico.

The government of President Mireya Moscoso is facing accusations of corruption. One recent case involved a concession by the Maritime Authority to a private enterprise to X-ray containers that move through the principal ports of Panama. The service, in fact, demanded what amounted to extra, illegal fees for the inspection.

Panorama Catolico states that “events follow one another in an interminable chain and contribute little to maintaining the atmosphere of social peace that the country needs.”

Moscoso took office in September 1999 amid great expectations that he would relieve the country´s poverty and unemployment. The economy grew by only 2.8% last year, less than the previous year.