Today, 25 April the National government sent it’s team to Boquete for a public hearing on the new water law. The Mayor was there, the governor was there, many other local elected officials were there as were hundreds of residents. The meeting started late, as usual, and bilingual The lights went out as when power was restored the English part of the presentation was snipped out.
The presentation done in powerpoint was to the point. Panama has a water crisis and the government wants to fix it. My concern about this being a packaging for resale to a private company was addressed early by pointing to a line I missed in the proposed law, curiously under article one, free standing.
“Paragraph: The National Authority for Drinking Water and Sanitation not be privatized.”
The audience was vocal and clear, they want no part of the law. I spent some time after the meeting with Rodrigo Marciacq discussing why the objections are so forceful. This is a quick summary of why.
In essence the people of Boquete want to continue to control their own water. They have no confidence in the national government. They believe this is a power grab and we will all be losers if Panama City has control of local water supplies. They point to the failure of IDAAN to provide water nationally and question if a new administration of a new department can do any better. They believe the focus will be on the Capital and we will pay more for worse service.
I have asked Rodrigo and the Mayor to address the Tuesday meeting on 30 April on the issue, in English. I will have a confirmation of this tomorrow.