Panama Cancels $400 Million Dollar CEMIS Contract for Breach

Thursday, October 11 2007 @ 06:20 AM UTC

Contributed by: Don Winner

By Edith Castillo Duarte for La Prensa - Panama's government decided to terminate, "for breach", the contract granted in 2002 to the Partnership San Lorenzo to develop a Multimodal Industrial and Services Center (Cemis) in the city of Colon. The subject was analyzed yesterday in a meeting between the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Colon Free Trade Zone. The manager of the Colon Free Trade Zone Nilda Quijano said that she notified the company of the decision and that today they will meet with representatives of the company to listen to the positions. The partnership, she explained, has "two periods of cures" and until this process is not exhausted the government cannot make any comments of future plans, because they would incur illegalities. Quijano said they will not renegotiate with the same company. "We must develop a project for the country and now we have more advantages because there are more opportunities". The Contract Law 3 of January of 2001, negotiated during the administration of Mireya Moscoso, was sprinkled of denunciations of bribery during its discussion in the Assembly. The investigations did not prosper and the project that was supposed to be an investment of $400 million dollars was suspended.

Editor's Comment: One of the biggest mistakes any business can make in Panama is getting too close to one side or the other with regards to politicians. Paying bribes to high level officials was so widespread during the administration of Mireya Moscoso that Martin Torrijos got elected on a "zero corruption" platform. And believe it or not, they have been taking themselves relatively seriously in that regard. If you look around at all of the guys who were going like rockets during the Mireya Moscoso years, many of them have come to a screeching halt.

Remember When The Causeway Way Hot? Jean Figali and his attempts to develop the Amador Causeway is a perfect example. He is and was tight with Winston Spadafora, a key figure in the Mireya Moscoso government and now a justice on the Supreme Court. The administration of Martin Torrijos has been tossing legal hand grenades at Figali's projects from every angle they can think of, but he's been protected by Spadafora. The CEMIS guys were accused of having paid huge bribes to get their deal through, and that was all well and good as long as that party was in power. Now that the PRD is in charge, Mireya is spending her money and the company is screwed. As in BOHICA S.A. screwed.

Want To Do Business? Remember, you can pay off everyone in the world today, and after the next election those guys are just dudes walking down the street, and the people that beat them who are now in power also want money (because they know you will pay) and if you don't then they will kill your permits, access, rights, paperwork, or whatever, and make your life a legal nightmare. Businessmen are caught between a rock and a third-world country because in some cases you can't get things done without a little grease here and there. But too much or over the top is just as bad or worse than none at all. The chances of getting some splash-back on you are almost 100%. Especially when the politicians decide to "out" you for their own selfish reasons. Afu went on national television waving wads of money. He's still in the National Assembly. What ever happened to the money? I don't know, but I know one thing for sure - the San Lorenzo group doesn't have it anymore.

There's Really Only Two Sides: The PRD and the "opposition." They are now split pretty much right down the middle, with a swing group that oscillates back and forth and actually decides elections. The two parties have been taking five-year turns in power since 1989 (opposition), 1994 (PRD), 1999 (opposition), and 2004 (PRD). So far, in the modern era of Panamanian fledgling democracy, no one has repeated. Which means that you only have a couple of years to get stuff done, then you have to start paying people off all over again. Maybe the CEMIS guys can tread water in the courts until 2009, at which time they might see some familiar faces returning to the halls of power.


Zona Libre rescinde contrato del Cemis

El tema se analizó ayer en una reunión de la junta directiva y el comité ejecutivo de la Zona Libre de Colón.

El consorcio San Lorenzo tiene ‘dos períodos de cura’ y hasta tanto no se puede hablar de nuevos planes.

Edith Castillo Duarte

El Gobierno nacional decidió rescindir, "por incumplimiento", el contrato concedido en 2002 al Consorcio San Lorenzo para que desarrollara un Centro Multimodal, Industrial y de Servicios (Cemis) en la ciudad de Colón.

El tema se analizó ayer en una reunión de la junta directiva y el comité ejecutivo de la Zona Libre. La gerente, Nilda Quijano, informó que se notificó a la empresa de la decisión y que hoy se reunirán con los representantes para escuchar sus planteamientos.

El consorcio, explicó, tiene "dos períodos de cura" y hasta que no se agote este proceso el Gobierno no puede hacer ningún comentario sobre futuros planes, ya que incurriría en ilegalidades.

Quijano dijo que no se renegociará con la misma empresa: "Tenemos que desarrollar un proyecto para el país y ahora tenemos más ventajas porque hay más oportunidades".

El Contrato Ley 3 de enero de 2001, negociado en la administración de Mireya Moscoso, estuvo salpicado de denuncias de soborno durante su discusión en la Asamblea. Las investigaciones no prosperaron y el proyecto que suponía una inversión de 400 millones de dólares fue suspendido.

Vea El Consorcio San Lorenzo desea cumplir con el contrato

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