To access the form of the Mayor’s Office of Panama, citizens must pay $4 thousand 424.75

On May 4, the political activist Freddy Pittí along with other citizens went to the Mayor’s Office of Panama to present a formal request for information on the payroll of that local government, between the years 2019 and 2022, that is, they wanted to know documentation of the officials hired during the administration of the current mayor, José Luis Fábrega.

At that time, Pittí said that the mayor’s office had hired about a thousand officials in a period of three years (2019-2022), amid the confinements and suspension of many activities, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Given this request, the political leader received an email from the mayor’s office requesting $4,424.75 to reproduce the information, based on article 4 of Law 6 of January 22, 2002, on access to information.

The local government told the activist that article 4 of the aforementioned law states that public access to information will be free as long as its reproduction is not required. The costs of reproducing the information will be borne by the applicant. In any case, the fees charged by the institution must include only the costs of reproduction.

The Mayor’s Office of Panama informed him that based on his request, the institution must make a reproduction of 58 thousand 915 copies, whose cost is $4 thousand 424 —the payment must be made in the collection boxes located on the ground floor of the Hatillo Building— , and that they had to inform the cashier of the amount to be paid for the “reproduction of copies” of the response to their request for information.

According to Pittí, the response of the Municipality of Panama to his request seems “extremely disrespectful”, not only to him, but to the thousands of citizens of the district of Panama who also want to know details and support for the hiring of more of a thousand officials in the midst of a pandemic.

“It is inadmissible that citizens have to incur absurd expenses in order to have access to information that should have been available to everyone for a long time,” he said.

In the next few days, Pittí will be going to the Transparency and Access to Information Authority (Antai), and if necessary, he will take the case to the Supreme Court of Justice with a habeas data appeal.

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