San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Libertarians Criticize PANI’s Costly ‘Party’

THE Libertarian Party chastised theChild Welfare Office (PANI) this week,claiming the institution requested nearly¢25 million ($52,100) for a “party” andattempts to spend money on frills whenits orphanages are in disrepair. Partymembers said PANI, the governmentcaretaker of orphans and defender ofabused or threatened children, requestedan extraordinary budget from theComptroller’s Office for a list of projects,one of which is the celebration of its 75thanniversary.PANI, however, responded that it didnot request the money for a party, but fora children’s rights congress that wouldhave taken place in the Children’sMuseum in San José. According to theoffice, it would have used the money topush for a bill in the LegislativeAssembly that would declare the institutionan historic national asset; to printeducational pamphlets explaining children’srights laws; and to emblazonstamps, national lottery tickets and officesupplies with a logo denoting PANI’s75th anniversary.“This was not a party, it was a veryimportant date for a very important institution,”PANI minister Rosalía Gil told TheTico Times.“It surprises me that they think it’s aparty, and nobody called me. If they had, Iwould have explained it to them. Oftenpeople request budgets from the comptrollerand are rejected. There’s no harm in it.That’s what the comptroller is for,” shesaid.THE Libertarian Party, which hasdeveloped a reputation for frequent callsto arms over allegations of mismanagement,irresponsibility and corruption,issued a statement attacking PANI forshirking its duty to care for homelesschildren and squandering its time andresources in “horrible administrativemanagement.”“PANI specializesin doing thingsbadly, a reflectionof which is that,while hundreds ofchildren need swiftand effective care,and (PANI) complainsabout a lackof resources, surprisingly,it requestsmillions ofcolones to celebrateits 75th anniversary,” Libertarian legislatorPeter Guevara said in the statement.The statement refers to a ComptrollerGeneral’s report addressed to ChildWelfare Minister Rosalía Gil, dated May19. The office approved part of PANI’sbudget request and rejected other aspectsof it, granting the institution a total of ¢3.7billion ($7.7 million).It denied PANI ¢100 million($208,000) for renovating one of its officebuildings, “because there is no reasongiven that shows that this investment ismore urgent than the necessities of repairingand outfitting some of PANI’s homesfor children throughout the country.”THE report goes on to address thesame issue that has riled the Libertarians:“On several occasions, PANI hasdeclared that it was not able to solve seriousproblems like overcrowding inhomes and the problems of stocking thelocal and regional offices because of alack of resources… (therefore) the budgetwas not awarded.”“The comptroller told us it would bebetter to spend the money we have onorphanages, so the repairs will have towait until later,” Gil said. “It’s OK, it’slogical reasoning, and we have no problemwith it.”PANI is using its funds for this year tobuy four new shelters for children in citiesin greater San José, Gil said. The organizationwill still hold its celebratory congress,but one that is less grandiose.

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