Infrastructure projects in Panama continue to push forward.
The government announced that it will construct rest stations every 80 kilometers along the Pan-American Highway.
The rest stations will include a range of amenities, including washrooms, parking, restaurants, and small shops. The government intends the stations to be for both local and foreigner use. Currently, while the Pan-American Highway is scattered with gas stations and restaurants, these are not public facilities open for all, and washrooms are often pay-per-use or for customers only.
In the last couple of years, infrastructure projects in Panama have been undertaken to match its spike in hotel developments along its Pacific coast. The newly built Rio Hato airport west of Panama City, improvements to Panama City’s major international airport, a new metro rail transportation system in Panama City, additional lanes for the Pan-American Highway, and planned upgrades for the port of Colon are among the government’s recent infrastructure projects in Panama.
The state-of-the-art metro system in Panama City recently opened the bidding process for the construction of its second line and received interest from more than 40 companies. The line would be paid for in installments over a period of eight years. The metro system helps move local workers from Panama City’s central areas, where many of them work in tourism-related jobs.
Tourism has become an increasingly important source of revenue for Panama, and infrastructure projects in Panama are an important aspect to drawing foreign tourists. Eleconomista.net reports that public sector construction outlays for 2014 will reach US$3.25 billion.
Along with this infrastructure push, the government is struggling to keep up with the costs required for the projects. After assuming a deficit from the prior government, newly elected President Juan Carlos Varela recently asked for and received a raise in the debt ceiling for 2014.
In recent years, tourism revenue has surpassed the amount received from the Panama Canal. In 2013, Panama received US$3.32 billion in revenue from tourism—double the amount from the Panama Canal.
For more information on living, investing, and traveling in Panama, check out the monthly Panama Letter from Live and Invest Overseas.