The Amador Convention Center and Line 2 of the Metro in the Panamanian capital (under construction) could delay the completion of projects, if the workers strike staged to demand a salary increase is extended, the administrator of the Tourism Authority of Panama, Gustavo Him told Acan-Efe today.
The National Union of Construction Workers and Similar Industries (Suntracs) has suspended since last Wednesday, most of the projects in the country, while engaging in negotiations, initiated months ago, with the Panamanian Chamber of Construction (Capac) for a new collective agreement in the next 4 years.
"We are concerned about the interruption of the work on private buildings and government, such as the new Amador Convention Center (CCA) which is expected to be delivered by the end of 2018, to start operations in 2019," the minister said.
"To this day we have a five-day delay and there is an expectation that the workers strike can be extended up to 15 days, the Government is being a facilitator in respecting the requests of the Suntracs, but there must be an intermediate point between the employers and the workers," said Him.
He said that when the regular flow begins in the projects it will not be possible to recover the time and that even its completion dates will be in a longer time, which he regards as negative.
The Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE), one of the most important business associations in the country, said Monday that Panama loses close to 30 million dollars for each strike day staged by Suntracs, which has more than 90,000 members, according to data from the union.
"If the Convention Center was not going to be completed in October it may be postponed until November, as in the case of Line 2 of the Metro. We hope that the strike will be shortened in order to have these works running for the World Youth Day (WYD) which will be held in January," said the politician.
Panama hopes that the great Catholic event in 2019 will be attended by more than 500,000 visitors, including pilgrims, religious, journalists, government representatives and heads of state. And it is expected that the event will generate profits of more than 500 or 600 million dollars
Him also said that next year the country will host major events such as the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Foundation of the City of Panama.
For these two events, the Tourism Minister said that for WYD, hotels have 100 percent occupancy, and that rates have tripled for that date, a positive trend for that industry.
Meanwhile, Him called for not to generate a negative image of the country, which depends on the strategic commitment of the infrastructure it develops to compete at a tourist level in the region.
Tourism represents around 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Panama, one of the most dynamic countries in the region, which in 2017 experienced an economic growth of 5.4 percent.