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Italian, Spanish govts jointly liable for canal work: Panama President

Italian, Spanish govts jointly liable for canal work: Panama President
The president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli said yesterday that he will travel to Europe and demand Italy and Spain meet their moral obligations towards ensuring work is complete on the Panama canal expansion.

The consortium responsible for building the locks for the expanded canal, Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) sent a letter to the Panama Canal Authority (APC) on 1 January stating that work would be suspended after 21 days unless progress was made towards settling $1.6bn in cost overruns relating to the project.

The consortium is made up of Spain's Sacyr Vallehermoso, Italy's Impregilo, Belgium's Jan de Nul and Panamanians CUSA.

"I will defend the interests of the Panama Canal expansion. The Italian and Spanish governments are jointly liable for the work,” Ricardo
Martinelli stated on Twitter yesterday.

Accusing GUPC of great irresponsibility, the Panamanian premiere told media yesterday that he will travel to Spain and Italy to demand the governments "meet their moral responsibilities" relating to the work, adding that GUPC should not be allowed to add such large overrun costs on a project “that belongs to humanity".

The expansion of the Panama canal was initially due to be finished in late summer this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the canal’s opening, but parts of the project are not currently expected to be complete until June 2015.