Contributed by: Don WinnerThe Panama Canal Authority (ACP) will invest $835.5 million dollars in fiscal year 2013, of which $690.5 million will be for regular investments, and $145 million for the Canal Expansion Program. This line item is distributed in various projects that are, mostly, the Maritime Services applet in the amount of $150.3 million, which is directly related to traffic operations and the safety of vessels. The remainder will be allocated to lines of energy, water and corporate services.
The Executive Vice President of the Administration and Finance Department of the ACP, Francisco Miguez, said the budget includes 39 projects of continuity and 66 new projects that range from the replacement of cranes, floating equipment, and new computer systems to bring ACP computing platforms to the highest standards. It also includes continuing the normal dredging performed in the Culebra Cut, rehabilitation of floodgates, work on the approaches and the widening of the waterway, which are part of the maintenance and improvements.
The budget also includes major new projects, such as the new bridge on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal at a cost of approximately $277 million dollars, a project that is about to open for bids. Another project will be the building of a site (landfill) to avoid flooding when Gatun Lake exceeds its capacity, a project in the initial stages, at present the feasibility study, location, size and technical characteristics, among others, for $186 million dollars.
The Panama Canal expansion project is 43% complete, and to give continuity to the project costs are budgeted in the order of $1.044 billion dollars - divided in administering the program for $24 million, $902 million for the locks, $49 million for the Pacific approach, $28 million for dredging, and $40 million for water supply.
Revenue - The ACP has budgeted toll revenues on the order of $1.8367 billion, representing 77% of the total. The Panama Canal will also receive $392.9 million for services related to traffic, revenues mainly from the production of water and electricity for $134 million, and another $17.4 million in interest income.
Transits - Projections made to design the new budget reflect transits through the Panama Canal will remain at levels similar to those of 2012, a decrease of 0.7% or 2.4 million tons in the amount of capacity PC / UMS (Universal Measurement System of vessels). In 2012, total recorded was 332.5 million this fiscal year and it is estimated that in 2013 will be 330.1 million.
According to Francisco Miguez, this year 332 million tons are forecast, however, "we are seeing the end at 329 million tonnes, which is not very different from the estimate, which is a normal variation in this industry." He said that for 2013 there are predicting 330.1 million tons, which means that there is very little growth from year to year, mainly because it is a reflection of how the economy is behaving globally. He said "the major markets that transit through the waterway are gradually emerging from a recession, with some uncertainty, mainly by events in Europe." He said the economic and financial crisis in different European countries and the United States have a situation that "could be cataloged as structural weakness of a post recession from a year and a half ago, which impacts on international trade in several ways, including maritime traffic." "We see very modest growth next year in terms of both tonnage and contributions to the state," said Miguez during his presentation. (Panama America)
Editor's Comment: The 2012 - 2013 ACP budget predicts the Panama Canal will generate about $940 million dollars in profits that will be turned over to the central government's coffers. Once the newly expanded Panama Canal opens sometime in 2015 (probably) those numbers will about double - and the Panama Canal will be generating about $2 billion dollars per year in profits for the nation. This is remarkable when you consider that, in 1977, the entire GDP of the whole country was about $2 billion dollars (now more than $30 billion). So from 1977 to 2011 the total size of the Panamanian economy has increased by 1430%. By comparison, in the same period of time, from 1977 to 2011, the total size of the US economy has increased by 650%. The performance of the Panamanian economy has been - in a word - astounding.