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Friday, August 22 2014 @ 11:42 AM EDT

Council Rejects Sale Of State Owned Shares in Power and Telecommunications Companies

Panama NewsThe Board of National Coalition took only one day of discussion to reject the sale of state owned shares in the electrical companies and Cable & Wireless. Furthermore, they opposed the sale of the lands of the Free Zone of Colon and Amador. The decision came after Finance Minister, Frank De Lima, explained the Government's position on the sale of the state owned shares in the electricity companies.

The argument to justify the sale of state owned shares in the telecommunication company was to have been left for another meeting in the future, but the members of the Coalition decided to issue their position based on what they described as a poor presentation by De Lima, who introduced this time an element that had not been discussed in depth when he presented the proposal to the National Assembly.

De Lima focused his presentation on the need for the sale to develop the process of electrical interconnection with Colombia, in which the state has to provide a capital of $140 million dollars. This explanation left more doubts among the sectors making up the Council, who questioned whether that was the reason why the Government proposed to sell the shares. The minister later clarified that the interconnection with Colombia has not yet been defined, and its implementation will depend on the success of the upcoming electrical power auction that will be held.

The Deputy Minister of the Presidency Maria Fabrega, who chairs the Council was not present at the time of the decision, because she had left, thinking they would not be issuing their position yesterday. Later, Zenon Navalo, representative of the executive, said she had been contacted, and she made clear that the government would respect the agreement.

Although there was consensus at the table, writing the first point of agreement generated a debate between the representative of the National Business Council (Conep), Gaspar Garcia de Paredes, and delegates from the opposition political parties. According to Garcia de Paredes, they could not categorically reject the sale of the shares without explaining the basis of their decision, while the opposition political parties argued that they had to be aggressive to make the government understand where they stand.

De Lima agreed that currently there is no room to sell the shares, but he considers it necessary to hold a national debate to determine whether or not it would be good to exchange the shares for other assets, or to define the social interest projects in which these resources could be invested. (Panama America)

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