Panama, April 12, 2002 – Panama Canal revenues for the first six months of its fiscal year reflected the sluggishness of the global economy, with tolls revenues coming in at $12.3 million under budget.

During the first half of its fiscal year (October 2001 through September 2002), the Canal recorded 769 transits under budget, for a total of 5,985 and a daily average of 32.9. The expected average for this period had been 37.1 daily transits.

Tolls revenues were down by $6.6 million compared to the same period the previous fiscal year.

Despite the effects of the global economic downturn, the institution continued to work diligently on the waterway’s modernization projects and land tenure programs for Canal watershed residents. The semester report was presented to the Canal Board of Directors by Administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

In contrast with fiscal year 2001, Panamax vessel transits decreased during this period. Total Panamax transits were 2,239 – 155 less than estimated and 3.4 percent below last fiscal year’s figures. Cargo statistics revealed that during this first semester of fiscal year 2002, 78.3 million long tons were transported across the Panama Canal, representing a decrease of 4.3 percent in comparison to the 81.8 million tons that crossed the waterway during the same period of the previous fiscal year.

Container cargo statistics maintained an upward trend, reflecting an increase of 4.5 percent in comparison to the tonnage registered during the first five months of the previous fiscal year. Other commodities that registered increases were iron and steel, refrigerated products, cars, trucks, accessories and parts.P>

An important achievement during this period was the arrival of ten towing locomotives manufactured by Mitsubishi Corporation, as a result of a contract awarded in 1997. In addition, installation of the hydraulic strut arm systems that open and close the lock miter gates is 78 percent complete.

Concerning Canal watershed programs, Administrator Aleman Zubieta reported that 20 national and international firms participated in a pre-bid conference meeting for the land tenure contract that will also aid the development of a land use plan for agricultural farms, rural towns and municipal common lands.

Aleman Zubieta also reported on the ACP’s rural communications program in the watershed, reaffirming the Canal’s commitment to meet with all stakeholders to promote the adoption of sustainable development programs in the region.