Monday, June 5

The Chamber Opines: Above all, the best interests of the country must be

The agreement negotiated between the Panamanian State and Minera Panamá marks a milestone important for the Republic as it is the largest foreign private investment in the country.

As a guild, always We have insisted on the importance of placing the interests of the nation above private interests, always respecting the legal security of the investment.

In this sense, since September 2021, a commission was formed within the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) to follow up on the negotiations and evaluate the agreements, having as reference a series of conditions that were considered fundamental.

In economic matters, it was understood that the State could aspire to a new and balanced system for calculating royalties, as in fact happened. These will be calculated on gross earnings, a model used successfully in Chile. In addition, the company reiterated its commitment to comply with the obligations stipulated in the Environmental Impact Study, including giving continuity to the mine closure and post-closure plan. This is also covered.

In the labor aspect, it was vital knowledge transfer and training by Minera Panamá to the Panamanian human capital, especially to the personnel of the area, through state organizations and universities, or the technical education center that currently operates within the mine. It is good news that the company has committed to guarantee a fund for training.

We reiterate the importance of respecting what was agreed at the negotiating table in the following instances until the approval of the Contract Law in the National Assembly.

It remains, as a pending point on the part of the National Government, andestablish for citizens the use that will be given to the funds that will be received annually, which in no way should be used for political purposes but for areas of strategic development of the country in order to be invested in the long term.

On a broader level, there is also pending, on the part of the Panamanian State, a review of the mining policy, which must be framed within a sustainable national economic policy. For this it is extremely important to strengthen the supervisory institutions of this activity with technical teams and not political ones. As well as updating the legal framework that must monitor and regulate compliance with the commitments reached.

However, the two previous points, today It is worth recognizing the exercise carried out in the case of the mine, which contrasts with the dark and disloyal management given in the case of another key sector, the port sector. The negotiations and the decision to extend the contract for the Ports of Balboa and Cristóbal took place in the midst of opacity, the National Government opted for silence and to date the CCIAP has not received a response to two letters sent to the Administrator of the Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP). And there is nothing to indicate that the interests of the country have been defended or will be defended.

Panama has important assets and natural heritage, such as its geographical position, its mineral and natural resources. These have been pivot for the growth achieved and must continue to be drivers of our development.

Capital’s guest speaker is José Ramón Icaza Clement, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP)