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After Panama papers, country eyes image boost with wider canal

Mossack Fonseca law firm sign is pictured in Panama City, April 4, 2016. Photograph: (Reuters)

AFP Panama Jun 21, 2016, 08.36 AM (IST)
Soon after the disclosures from the ‘Panama Papers’ rocked the global elite, the country is eyeing a series of efforts to polish its tarnished image. This weekend, as a part of the efforts, Panama will witness the inauguration of a wider canal, the waterway's administrator has said.

"We are showing the world the real face of Panama and that will no doubt have a positive effect on the image of the country during these adversities we are going through," Jorge Quijano, head of the Panama Canal Authority, said in an interview.

On Sunday, the Central American nation is set to officially open its expansion work on the century-old Panama Canal after years of costly work with a ceremony featuring regional leaders and foreign dignitaries.

The project ran hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and two years past deadline, taking nine years to complete at a cost of more than $5.5 billion. It required the construction of new locks, enlarged access and a deepening of the canal bed.  

The pharaonic task of broadening the 80-kilometre (50-mile) canal, which is sometimes called the eighth modern wonder of the world, is believed to be a source of pride for Panama.

It may be recalled that April's "Panama Papers" revelations, which exposed how some of the world's wealthy and influential stashed assets in offshore companies thanks to the work of a Panama-based law firm, have cast a long shadow over the country's image. "We have expanded the wonder. It's a major step for a small country and that fills us with pride to have achieved that," Quijano said.

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