Proposed Rate Hike
Historical File .... No Action Required

The Panama Canal Commission (The PCC) has announced that starting May 1st, 1998 the Transit Fees will be raised to $1,500 per yacht EACH WAY. Unfortunately, $1,500 is going to force most cruisers to rethink their plans about transiting the canal. Clearly, $3,000 dollars for a round trip will be well beyond the reach of most cruising budgets. Many boats from North America will have to forego the transit and stop short. Cruisers from other parts of the world will face a similar situation. Simply stated, the fare increase is unfair. It will put the ability to transit the canal out of the realm of possibility for many yachts, and small boats (including sport-fishing boats.)

If you are an American citizen your parents or grand parents most likely paid their share in taxes to build the canal. Is it somehow fair for the Panama Canal Commission to charge you an additional $1,500 every time you wish to use "your" canal? I think not! The proposed rate hike amounts to a 3500% increase.

The issue of the canal fees is no doubt only the first of many issues that will crop up around the turn over of the canal to Panama. However, if we are to preserve our transit rights this issue must be dealt with right now. If we fail to act, and the PCC implements their proposed rate hike, then each small boat owner will end up bearing an undue financial burden. Together we can influence the PCC if, as a member of the boating community, you participate in the effort to stop the unfair increase.

Right now, there are people both inside, and outside of Panama, working to bring about an equitable solution for the continued use of the canal by pleasure yachts. At the Pedro Miguel Boat Club we are doing our part to make sure that the PCC gets the message, but we need your help. The best way to help is to Send us e-mail in support of keeping the transit fees reasonable. In addition, please take time to spread the word elsewhere. Specifically, contact your congressperson and inform him or her about the injustice that is being foisted on the people who own small boats.

There is still time to act, but not much. Like most other governmental policy changes, the rate hike in the canal must go through a public review process. This process is open to participation by all interested parties including YOU.

On February 13th, 1998 some key people will go before the PCC and argue, on your behalf, that we should all continue to have the right to use the canal at a fair price. You probably don't know these men and women, but they will be speaking on your behalf. Give them your support so that they can help you and the cruising community. This is not just an issue for US. Citizens, but for the entire worldwide cruising community. Everyone can help the effort by spreading the word. It's easy with the Internet. Send email to Congress and the Panama Canal Commission in support of keeping the fees reasonable. Your help is of paramount importance to all of us.

Fellow cruisers, and small boat owners, are you prepared to help us fight the highly unfair tariff for us to use your own canal? Let's not let the PCC use economics to bar us from the canal. Together we have a chance to stopping this insane fare increase. Please spread the word to your cruising friends, and your boating associations. Ask your non-sailing friends as well for help in getting the word out to the appropriate government representatives. Let them know that this is an unjust action being taken by the PCC against small private boats. This is clearly a problem for sailors from all countries. Everyone, no matter where they're from can help us preserve their right to transit the canal at a fair price.

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Copyright 1998 Pedro Miguel Boat Club
November 13, 2000 07:06