Bids for the design and construction of the train that will link Tocumen to San Miguelito will be accepted Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon. Three consortiums are expected to submit proposals. They are Brazil's Noberto Odebrecht and Spain's FCC, the firms that constructed the first line, Mexico's ICA and Spain's ACS, and Chinese companies Harbour Engineering and Construction and China Railway Group, who are partnering with the Spanish firm Insolux Corsan.
Deputy Minister of Economy Iván Zarak said the bidding process used for the contract will result in best value and follows established public procurement guidelines.
"This mechanism was not invented recently and is similar to the mechanism established by the Panama Canal Authority for similar engagements," said Zarak.
However, Carlos Gasnell, of the Foundation for the Development of Free Citizens, said that issuing "turnkey" contracts, which include both the design and construction of the work, can lead to abuses.
"This aspect of the public procurement law must be reviewed and reformed," he said.
Zarak said that if the procurement law has shortcomings, they should be addressed by the National Assembly or the executive branch.
Once the bids are received, they will be analyzed for roughly two months before a decision is made. The bids were supposed to be submitted in December, but the deadline was delayed at the request of the bidders.