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Panama OKs financing plan for capital metro's line 2

Panama's government has approved a financing plan that a consortium led by Brazil's Odebrecht presented for the construction of a new Panama City metro line.

"We've been in talks with the banks involved in the project and the information we have, which is unofficial, is that the consortium has a financially valid offer, and (the banks) have confirmed their intention to continue with the project," Panamanian Economy and Finance Minister Dulcidio de la Guardia said Thursday.

The Panamanian government sees no financial risk "at the moment," and Odebrecht's legal troubles in Brazil and the June arrest of its chief executive, Marcelo Odebrecht, will not adversely affect the metro expansion project, De la Guardia said.

Odebrecht was arrested as part of a probe into a massive corruption scheme in which engineering and construction firms allegedly paid bribes to secure inflated contracts with Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petrobras.

On May 20, a Brazilian-Spanish consortium made up of Odebrecht and Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas secured the rights to build the Panama Metro's Line 2 with a $1.86 billion bid.

"We've already informed the (Panama) Metro Secretariat that the consortium's (financing plan) is in order. (That portfolio) is now responsible for making the decision and signing the contract," the minister said.

The consortium will have 46 months to complete the first phase of Line 2, which will consist of 16 elevated stations and some 22 kilometers (14 miles) of track running from the Tocumen International Airport in the capital's eastern outskirts to the northern Panama City neighborhood of San Miguelito, where it will link up with Line 1.

Odebrecht and FCC also built the Panama Metro's Line 1, which covers a distance of 16 kilometers (10 miles), cost approximately $2.1 billion and began operating in April 2014.   (Fuente: LA Herald Tribune)