The Panama Canal authority said Thursday it hopes to increase income by changing the way it collects tolls starting in 2015, when the newly expanded canal goes into operation.
"What we're looking for is not to simply to cover the value that the route offers right now, but instead the much greater value that a widened canal will have," said canal administrator Jorge Quijano.
The proposal, Quijano said, will most likely differentiate between vessels that continue to use the existing canal and those using the widened route.
Authorities are looking into alternatives to the current per-TEU charges (a maritime transport unit equivalent to one 20-foot container) that could attract a greater volume of cargo without necessarily raising costs for users.
During the 2011 fiscal year, 14,600 ships carrying 322 million tons of cargo passed through the canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific, generating $800 million in revenue for Panama, or about two percent of its GDP.
Last year, more than 333 million tons of cargo passed through the canal.
The widening project, slated to be completed by 2015 -- six months behind schedule -- will allow the canal to accommodate ships with a capacity of up to 12,000 containers -- larger than 5,000-container ships now able to traverse it.