Monday 3rd June 2024.

June 2, 2024


The last elections left a National Assembly with a clear diversity of political ideologies. Given this, the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) considers it essential that the institution commit to a purpose focused on national well-being, the promotion of transparency, accountability, institutional strengthening and the search for viable and sustainable solutions.

In its Sunday message, the Cciap highlights that the country’s institutions have suffered deterioration due to corruption, inefficiency, division and “living games” and consider it imperative to implement a policy of collaboration and commitment to the national interest.

In order to work in unity, the group affirms that it is meeting with all the groups of the next National Assembly, regardless of their sizes, since they consider that debate and diversity of opinions are fundamental pillars of democracy.

They also emphasize that deputies have the responsibility to prioritize the common interest over partisan or personal interests and establish a constructive dialogue with a view to achieving effective public policies that address the challenges facing the country and improve the quality of life of all citizens. .

“The incoming deputies have a unique opportunity to change the course of our country. They must assume their role with responsibility and selflessness, working tirelessly for the common good,” stated the Chamber of Commerce.

The business union remembers that “history will judge this generation of politicians by their ability to overcome differences and work for a prosperous, fair and sustainable Panama” and calls to look after the true needs of citizens.

“Panama demands a National Assembly that is an example of unity and dedication (…) Ultimately, those political leaders who act with integrity, vision and determination to build a better future for all Panamanians will be remembered as heroes,” the organization indicated.

This Monday marks the beginning of the official transition period between the outgoing government of Laurentino Nito Cortizo and president-elect José Raúl Mulino .

The morning of June 3 will begin with a formal ceremony at the Electoral Tribunal (TE) where Mulino, who ran for the Realizing Goals (RM) and Alianza parties , will receive his credentials as president-elect.

The act is merely a formality. By handing over his credentials on Monday morning, the TE proclaims Mulino as president-elect for the next five-year period 2024-2029.

The ceremony will take place in the TE’s event hall, at its main headquarters in the town of Ancón, in Panama City. The event starts at 10 am

Mulino defeated the other seven candidates for the presidency of the Republic with 778,763 votes , which represents 34.23% of those who participated.

Last Tuesday, May 7, President Cortizo held his first meeting with Mulino at the Las Garzas palace.

Leaving the meeting that afternoon, the two gave more details about the transition process.

The main coordinator of the Cortizo side appointed was engineer Saleh Asvat, the national secretary of the Public Private Partnership. Aníbal Galindo was chosen as the coordinator of Mulino’s transition team.

“The transition team is essential for the incoming team. “You know the reality of the nation, of the state, of delicate and important situations that must be handled without any interruption,” said Mulino.

Cortizo has said publicly that he asked his ministers not to hide or modify information from the incoming Government regarding all the processes they carry out in their respective portfolios.

“As I told you in the Cabinet Council: I don’t want any type of makeup,” said the president.

Starting Monday, ministers must provide all information on the projects that are being executed, the location, physical progress and financial progress, according to Cortizo.

They are also required to report whether said projects face any legal or administrative problems, whether they are in the Comptroller’s Office or another entity, and whether or not the contractors have requested addendums. “But let things be told as they are. That the information be provided to the incoming Government,” said Cortizo.

As part of the transition process, Mulino, who has so far met with two benches of the National Assembly (the RM party and the Vamos coalition), has also named all the ministers of his cabinet .

In his first days as president-elect Mulino has met with the United States ambassador in Panama . He also gave his first interview to a local media where he said that among his priorities once he takes office on July 1 are solving the water problem and generating more formal jobs. This week Mulino toured the National Cancer Institute where he reiterated his promise to build a new cancer hospital.

President José Raúl Mulino included the construction of a Panama-Chiriquí train as one of his campaign pillars. It is not yet known how much it will cost or how it will be financed. But business organizations and logistics experts anticipate that this is the project that the country needs to take advantage of its geographical position, which has not resulted in economic improvement for the provinces, precisely due to the lack of connectivity.

During a discussion organized by the Competitiveness Center of the Western Region (Cecomro), the Chiriquí-Panama Pro Train Committee was established, which will be in charge of promoting the plan so that the investment can be made, indicated Felipe Rodríguez, a member of the group. .

Rodríguez recalled that the first feasibility studies to build the railway section, which would be used to transport passengers and cargo, were carried out in 2018, in cooperation with the People’s Republic of China.

However, they have had partial access to the analysis, despite having requested the previous government to “deliver it to us, and it never formally delivered to us all the studies that contemplate the participation of many high-level national companies.”

“One of the things that the committee is going to start asking for, immediately, is access to all the studies that have already been done,” Rodríguez emphasized.

The conversation with Rodríguez takes place after several members of Cecomro met in Chiriquí in person, to get in touch – through an online meeting – with Carlos Ernesto González De La Lastra, logistics advisor of said organization.

González is convinced that a train to the producing province of Chiriquí, with several branches in the central provinces, will bring important economic and social benefits, and will overthrow the model of concentration of wealth in the capital city.

“We have spent 10,000 million dollars on Metro lines, in Panama City, on the beach corridor and a bridge over the Canal. .. It is time to think about the integration of the entire country and take advantage of the advantages that our connectivity offers,” said González, in the face of possible criticism regarding the cost that the work could reach.

In economic terms, feasibility studies indicate that the cost of transporting a container from Chiriquí to Cristóbal (Colón) is about 1,500 dollars, while with the train this would represent 300 dollars, for the same route. “It means that there are 1,200 dollars left for the producer, who can use them to increase, double and multiply his production.”

These new costs, according to González, will allow producers, instead of planning shipments in just one container, to agree and send 30 containers to their final destination, after achieving a lower logistical cost for that production.

“There is nothing more to see than our neighbors in Puerto Rico; They export about 800,000 containers of refrigerated products a year and Panama 8,000, having all the connectivity we have. So, we must understand that the infrastructure of a train is absolutely essential to use advanced logistics and competitiveness in costs and speed of delivery,” González mentioned.

In the middle of the conversation of about two hours, he said that the investments to be made, both in new infrastructure and in the improvement of existing ones, will only be possible through the active participation of the Government. However, the desired transformations cannot be carried out with the sole participation of the state sector.

“The participation of the private sector, as an operator and in turn as a dependent of services, is essential to guarantee the full use of the viability of these investments.”

At the Cecomro meeting it was indicated that at least 5,000 employees would be needed in the construction period and regular workers in the operation period.

From an economic point of view, González said that a table of multilateral entities must be achieved to be clear about the cost of the work and obtain long-term financing, with good financial conditions.

He considered that one of the objectives should be to “invite multilaterals to finance the emblematic project of the new government in the long term, 30 or 40 years, with interest rates appropriate to the risk of Panama and with a grace period.”

Panama must present a law that creates a railway company, I emphasize, because to obtain financing not only will the technical factors of construction have to be taken into account, but also everything related to the organizational structure, personnel training and financial controls. .

The typical financial model must take into account traffic and then the revenue from that traffic, operating subsidies, if any, operating costs based on the cost structure, capital investments, debt and their payment over time.

It is estimated that the speed of the train will be between 160 and 200 kilometers per hour . The alignment should link urban areas or areas with growth potential, in addition to connecting strategic loading points.

The route that would be chosen must also accommodate the sites with the least environmental impact and must provide future connections for the branches.


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