A group of people protested today before the headquarters of the Public Services Authority (Asep) of Panama against the increase in the electricity pricing decreed for the second half of this 2018, considering it a consequence of the bad management of the public entity.
The Asep informed last week that the electricity price will increase by 8.4 percent for 24.5 percent of users, that is, for those who consume more than 300 kilowatts per hour.
"This adjustment is mainly motivated by the new transmission rate that incorporates the Third Transmission Line and by the normal adjustments associated with generation costs," said Asep.
The protesters stressed the increase is due to delays in the construction of the transmission line and considered inadmissible to punish the users for this bad administrative management.
"With this increase everything becomes more expensive," one of the protesters told reporters, adding that the Panamanian family economy cannot take it anymore, noting that adjustments are being announced to monthly payments in private schools for next school year, including other increases.
The peaceful protest was backed by drivers passing by, who honked their horns and shouted slogans against the electricity pricing increase.
"At the end of the road, it affects the quality of life of the Panamanian. If there is a new increase (of electricity) we will have a generalized increase in the cost of living (...) the people cannot stand a further increase," said the activist and one of the protesters, Paulette Thomas.
The upward adjustment of electricity trafficking has also been rejected by business sectors such as the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), which expressed its condemnation that consumers "pay for irresponsibility and lack of timely decisions by different government administrations".
"The latest increase in the electricity pricing, justified by the timely non-execution of plans related to the third transmission line, confirms the erratic nature of Panama's energy policy," CCIAP president Gabriel Barletta said in a public statement.
He mentioned "although it is stated that the increase will only reach a consumer sector, the reality shows that these increases impact production and marketing costs, which ends up imposing collateral effects on final prices of products and services."
The union that brings together more than 1,600 companies from 15 economic sectors said that given the situation of the electricity market in Panama it has insisted "on the need to comply, with a long-term vision and sustainability, the expansion plan with the component of diversifying the energy matrix through sources that increasingly break the country's dependence on oil."
"In that direction, it is urgent to execute the project of the fourth transmission line before the projections estimated for its need are overflowed as it happened on this occasion," said the CCIAP.
According to official data, 60 percent of the electricity consumed in Panama in 2016 came from hydroelectric power, 32 percent from thermal, 7 percent from wind, and 1 percent from self-generation power. EFE