Contributed by: Don WinnerAlmost two years since the start of the transition from the so-called "Red Devils" to a new public transportation system that is "comfortable, safe and reliable" according to the slogan of the Metro Bus, there are still complaints from users, and doubts about the government's relationship with the company Mi Bus, that is responsible for providing the service. As time passes instead of disappearing, new complaints and reports of irregularities are added to these already existing aspects.
The latest came yesterday when National Assembly Deputy Jose Isabel Blandon from the Panameņista political party reported on the channel 2 TVN news program that the current administration "has a debt of $30 million in subsidies," and he warned that the company could suspend the service at any time, due to a lack of payments.
This information was denied by the director of the Transit Authority, Ventura Vega, who said that during his administration (since July 2012) "we have kept up with all the payments," and he says the relationship between the government and the company is in perfect condition.
Other versions saying the government had recently delivered an extraordinary payment for arrears were also denied, after the former director of the ATTT, Juan Pablo Mora, said that during his administration (January - July) accounts were also settled on time.
Despite attempts to contact company representatives from Mi Bus, we failed to obtain their version.
The Goals Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic, Lilian Thompson, told La Estrella that so far the government of Panama has paid $35 million dollars to the company in subsidies, and there is another pending payment due this month of $4.5 million dollars.
For the months of November and December 2012 the government has budgeted $10.5 million, an amount that could vary depending on the number of people using the service. (Estrella)
Editor's Comment: Translation - Blandon is full of shit, and he was just making up false allegations for political purposes. What they are talking about here are the "subsidies" being paid by the government of Panama to the company Mi Bus, in order to keep bus fares artificially low. The people who ride the new Metro Bus service are some of the poorest in Panama, so the government is quite simply paying a part of the bus fare for them with these subsidies - to the tune of about $5 million dollars per month. Blandon is trying to play a sort of "chicken little" card, by saying that the government is supposedly out of money, they have not paid the subsidies, and the buses could stop running at any moment. The Panameņistas are desperate to maintain some sort of relevance, and now they are just flat out making stuff up.