Panama Canal announces ambitious investment plan

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By Daniel Villatoro García

An ambitious investment plan and carbon-free operations stand out today among the priorities of the Panama Canal, according to its authorities.

As explained by the deputy administrator of the interoceanic route, Ilya Espino, from 2024 to 2030, an unprecedented investment of eight billion dollars is expected as part of a strategy that marks the beginning of a decisive era for the main asset of the economy of the island country.

It is a program that has as its main objective the integration of sustainability into all facets of the canal operation, the official explained to the newspaper La Prensa.

It went on to transcend that there will be an allocation of $3.5 billion for infrastructure and equipment, including the installation of a photovoltaic plant and the acquisition of electric vehicles and hybrid tugs.

In addition, more than $2 billion will be allocated for water projects and water management, in the face of an intense drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon that has led since the end of 2023 to reduce daily boat transits.

Another billion dollars, Espino added, would support the digital transformation and decarbonization of the waterway.

Espino, named last January as the Channel’s first sustainability officer, highlighted how her new functions fit into a carbon-free operation.

In this regard, he explained that work is being done with the advice of the International Finance Corporation, which will allow next April to have a basic guide to carbon emissions, including the current environmental-friendly operation and future investments.

For several years the Canal has begun a process with a view to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, but in this way it is a more comprehensive and ambitious plan until 2050 to establish sustainability as a cross-cutting axis that impacts all areas of work.

The ACP announced this week that from tomorrow Monday the daily transit of ships from 24 to 27 would be increased thanks to an improvement in the level of the artificial lakes of Gatún and Alajuela that supply water to the interoceanic route.

Also in the face of last year’s long dry season, the ACP reduced the draught of the ships that can travel, with a strong impact on cargo volumes and revenues, which for this year expects to receive $700 million less.

Under optimal conditions, the average daily transit through the waterway is between 35 and 36 vessels. Its main users are the United States, China and Japan.

The Canal, through which about six percent of world trade passes and inaugurated in August 1914, was built by the United States, which operated it until 1999, when on December 31 of that year it transferred it to Panama.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Pais

Panama’s Consumer prices rose 1.5% in February 

Consumer prices continued to rise in February. In the transport group, the largest increases were in fuel and lubricants, insurance and some education services, among others, also increased.

Transport increases, the costs of school supplies and tuition increases, the electricity bill goes higher, insurance policies increased, more gasoline is paid and some foods like dairy products cost more than last year.

Every month the Panamanian feels the pressure of increasing prices of various products and services. Although the country does not have a rate of increase in inflation as high as others in the region, in the day to day consumers perceive increases that are undermining their purchasing power and the option is to reduce spending, says Annie Muñoz, Leader of Categories Administration in Latin America, the United States and Canada of NielsenIQ.

The February Consumer Price Index recorded an annual variation of 1.5%, according to the monthly report of the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) of the Comptroller General of the Republic.

The increase between February 2023 and February 2024 was driven by the increase in consumer prices of various goods and services groups by 4.2%, including beauty salons, centers for personal care, beauty products such as cosmetics and personal hygiene, shavings, toothbrush, jewelry, watches, health insurance, housing and cars.

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In the insurance line, the average increases were 16.2% with the highest incidence in car insurance that increased by 21.7% in February compared to the same month last year.

Health insurance also rose in one year 11.3% and financial services costs increased by an average of 6.9%.

The cost of transport also increased 3.7 per cent, mainly due to the increase in the prices of fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment that rose 10.6% year-on-year. In particular, fuel increased 11.3%. A year ago, fuel subsidies were available for both 95-octane gasoline and 91 octane gasoline, both were eliminated.

The cost of airfare increased 8.7% compared to February 2023 due to the rise in international aviation fuel prices.

Car rental rates with 3.9% rises in February compared to the same month in 2023 and school transport increased 4% in anticipation of high demand for the service at the start of the school year in March.

In the group of restaurants and hotels that recorded increases in consumer prices of 2.7% year-on-year, the biggest increase was in the cost of food.

For the prices of housing, water, electricity and gas services that rose on average 2.4%, the biggest increase in housing repair costs that increased in February 7.3%, while electricity rates grew on average 4.1% compared to last year.

Consumer prices rose 1.5% in February due to rises in transport, fuel, restaurants and food

In January, the new tariff sheet was authorized, so the electricity bill registers a variation in February. Augustine Herrera

In the non-alcoholic food and beverage group, the year-on-year increase at the end of February was 1.2%, with steepest increases in cereals that rose 12.% and increases of 11.5% in the cost o