In the midst of the scandal due to the excessive mobilization expenses charged by mayors and representatives of the country's corregimiento, Panama Mayor José Luis Fábrega said on Tuesday that he is not obliged to support the mobilization expenses ($5,000) that he receives each month reports La Prensa.
The controversial mobilization expenses received by authorities of the local governments would have come to life during the government of the PRD Martín Torrijos (2004-2009). A statement from the Comptroller General Gerardo Solís, announcing that the entity will review salaries, representation expenses, travel expenses and allowances for mayors and district representatives, reveals some information about the history of this privilege that costs the treasury at least $12.3 million per year.
“We emphasize that at least since before 2007, during the management of former comptroller Carlos Vallarino, it was authorized to process the mobilization payments of mayors and representatives, as was being done. While in 2016, during the past administration, the Municipal Council of Panama agreed to mobilization expenses of $3,000 per month for each representative. In December 2017, through other agreements, they were increased to $4 thousand per month, and in December 2019 it was increased to $5 thousand per month. All these budgetary allocations were implemented with the endorsement delegated by the former comptroller, Federico Humbert”, said a press release.
According to the Comptroller, "the political-administrative decisions adopted by each Municipal Council [sic] in relation to its budget are the exclusive responsibility of the mayors and representatives." He adds "this legal basis and the very spirit of the Decentralization Law is what allows the current budget allocation in the line of mobilization expenses."
“We will do a complete analysis of all these expenses so that a coherent and well-informed decision can be made regarding them. Doing the review and analysis of each one and if they are sustained and have the income to sustain these expenses.
Earlier, Fábrega defended the income he receives monthly (at least $12,250). A La Prensa journalist asked him if he would be willing to reduce his salary out of empathy with the public in the midst of the pandemic, and the mayor replied as follows: “The truth is that we have walked during the pandemic, at the most critical moments. They haven't asked us that question anymore." Another journalist questioned him: Nobody asks you to lower your salary?, and he replied: "No citizen has asked this server [to lower the salary], nor to any representative of the township."
Then he delved into the concept of salary and said that he did not earn $12,000, but $7,000. “You have to master the concept of what salary is and the different components. If you talk to me about income, it's another story.“
Fábrega is the mayor who earns the most in the country: $12,250 as a product of salary, representation expenses, provincial council per diem, and travel expenses.