María M. Mur
The election of the new administrator of the Panama Canal, an appointment of great importance for the country due to the weight of the interoceanic route in world trade, enters in its final lapse this month.
The term of the current administrator, Jorge Luis Quijano, expires on September 3, but the engineer, who has refused to submit to a second term of seven years, asked that his successor be appointed in time for an orderly transition.
The laws establish that the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority (PCA), with 11 members, is in charge of appointing the person who will administer, until 2026, the aquatic route autonomously, through which 6% of the global commerce passes every day.
The opposition deputy and member of the board, Elias Castillo, explained to Acan-Efe on Tuesday that the announcement will be made before Carnivals vacation and that a US company specializing in recruitment interviewed in the last few months about twenty candidates, of which there are only six left.
The board of directors will reduce the list of candidates by half this week, said Castillo, who declined to give the names of the people who are on the short list.
"They are executives with an important profile and two (of the six candidates) belong to the canal family or have had links with the canal during their working life", he said.
"The canal is one of the most solid companies in the country because of its global service, for its image abroad and for the good contributions it offers the Government to address national problems", added Castillo, for whom the new manager should focus in strengthening the relationship with the shipping companies and adding value to the route.
The newspaper La Estrella de Panama assured, citing sources from the PCA, that the three candidates with more possibilities are Julio Spiegel, current general manager of Cable & Wireless Panama; Jorge García Icaza, former president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP); and Ricaurte Vásquez, former Minister of Economy and Finance in the government of Martín Torrijos (2004-2009).
The name of Ilya Espino de Marotta has also been sounded, she is the first and only woman to occupy a position of top management in the PCA and who was the main responsible for the works of expansion of the canal, a project of more than 5,500 million dollars opened in June 2016.
Former canal administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta (1996-2012) told the Telemetro network that the new administrator must be someone "independent" and "with his own criteria", and that his main task should be to finish turning Panama into a "center of logistics and international transportation".
For the president of the Logistics Business Council (COEL), Enrique Clement, the new administrator must "be chose from the lines of the own canal", "be a broad knower of the sector" and "keep politics aside".
"If the candidate is someone outside the sector, the learning curve and training would be too long and we must bear in mind that this year there is a change of government and that many decisions must be made", he added in a statement to Acan-Efe.
The canal, built by the United States at the beginning of the last century and definitively transferred to Panama on December 31, 1999, received more than 3.1 billion dollars last year and delivered the record figure of 1,703 million dollars as a contribution to the Panamanian treasury.
The two largest customers of the water route, which connects more than 1,700 ports in 160 countries, are United States and China and the container transport is its main business.