The immediate firing of 40 employees by the Mec Shipyards consortium , which operates the Balboa shipyard, on November 6, as part of a restructuring process to mitigate “significant losses” is seen as another indication of the slowing of the Panamanian economy while President Varela and a group of businessmen are in Shanghai trying to drum up business and assessing what the effect the trade war between the US and Canada, the Canal’s biggest users might have on the local economy.
A statement from Mec said that this is “due to the difficult economic situation faced by the Balboa shipyard and of with timely notification to the authorities, given that it is a concession contracted with the State through the Maritime Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP) “.
Mec had agreed with the AMP an addendum to the concession contract between the State and the consortium, signed in 2012 by the previous administration, to modify two clauses that sought to reduce the duration of the contract, which was for 20 years, and the fixed fee for lease, which was agreed at $99.1 million during its term. However, the addendum was not endorsed by the Comptroller General of Panama.
In the statement, the consortium indicates that although two years ago Mec requested an economic balance that would allow it to sustain the company and preserve its workforce, “has not found an answer to overcome this difficult situation.”
The consortium based the request on the fact that, after rehabilitating the shipyard which was received in deplorable conditions and recovering the national image for the provision of its services, the shipyards sector was severely affected by the crisis in the maritime industry.