Last week, the Panama Congress committee made a significant decision, signing it into law and bringing an end to years of legal uncertainty. This decision, however, has sparked a series of violent protests in Panama City, the capital.
As a result of the uncertainty surrounding the future of a key asset, shares in a certain company have plummeted by a shocking 50% this week. This has prompted investors to reduce their exposure to the stock. On Tuesday, the stock closed at C$16.07, but on Wednesday morning in Toronto, it was last seen at C$14.41.
The protestors argue that the new contract was fast-tracked without sufficient public input or transparency and are demanding its immediate cancellation. They have also leveled corruption allegations against lawmakers.
In response, President Cortizo has announced that the country will hold a referendum on December 17 to determine whether or not to revoke the controversial contract. However, this intention has been halted by Panama’s electoral court, which states that a nationwide vote requires the passage of a law by Congress.
Despite the hurdles, progress has been made as a legislative committee approved Bill 1110, a proposal to revoke the contentious Law 406 and prohibit future mining concessions in Panama. This is the first hurdle the bill needed to clear before becoming law.
Special Sessions to Fast-Track Bill
In response to President Cortizo’s announcement of the referendum, First Quantum, a company involved in the mining industry, issued a statement mentioning that “unconstitutionality challenges” have been lodged against Law 406. The Supreme Court of Justice has agreed to hear two of these challenges.
First Quantum, a Toronto-based company, emphasizes its commitment to the rule of law and its support for Panama and its people. The company also highlights the significant contributions of its Cobre Panama mine to the country’s economy, including nearly 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 75% of the country’s goods export, and the creation of at least 40,000 jobs.
While the future of the mining concession contract remains uncertain, First Quantum welcomes the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with the people of Panama to discuss the project’s future.
In anticipation of further developments, the Panama Congress has scheduled special sessions for today and Thursday, just before a public holiday on Friday.