The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is the administrative body that runs the Panama Canal. After negotiating the release of the land that became Panama, after eleven years constructing the Canal and after eighty-five years of operation, the United States government handed over control of the Panama Canal to ACP. This happened on December 31, 1999, when a huge crowd gathered at the administration building of the canal for the event.
However, ACP existed for twenty years before that and shared administration with the USA is it phased out its participation in canal governance. The Panama Canal Authority was established under Title XIV of the National Constitution for the sole purpose of operation, administration, management, preservation, maintenance, and modernization of the Canal, thus enabling the Canal to operate in a safe and profitable manner.
The ACP, as the Authority is called, is legally and financially separate from Panamanian government. It is legally allowed to set policy without government interference. Its eleven-member board has authority to make the decisions necessary to operate the Canal. They are appointed by the President of Panama but their terms are staggered in such a way that one President does not have undue influence over the board. Former board members of ACP have been known to subsequently rise to high office in Panama. For example, former head of the board of ACP, Ricardo Martinelli, is now the president of Panama.
The Panama Canal constitutes an inalienable patrimony of the Republic of Panama. For this reason, it may not be sold, assigned, mortgaged, or otherwise encumbered or transferred. This unique arrangement gives Panama the ability to regulate the Canal while ensuring that it is available to ships from any country to use. Panama assumed control of one of the world´s most important waterways in 1999, but it was the formation of the ACP in 1997 that guaranteed successful and profitable operation of this world asset into the future.
For more information about Panama’s Canal please contact one of our Panama experts today.
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