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Business in Brief

Published:Wednesday | April 29, 2015 | 4:00 AM

Panama Canal project installs final lock gate

The Panama Canal is installing the last of 16 giant lock gates that are a key

part of the waterway's multibillion-dollar expansion.

Tuesday's installation of the 4,232-ton gate at the Pacific Ocean entrance to the waterway means the most critical phase of the expansion can start in coming weeks: the flooding of the locks.

Panama in 2006 decided to build a wider canal to accommodate vessels capable of

carrying 2.5 times the number of containers held by ships currently using the canal.

The expansion has been beset by a nasty battle over

cost overruns with European builders and delays that have pushed back its expected opening by a year to April 2016.

EU withholds aid until

Guyana holds elections

Guyana's British high commissioner says the European Union will not release US$37 million in aid until the South American country has a functioning parliament.

James Quinn told reporters late Friday that the money will likely be released after the May 11 general election. The majority of the money is slated to help boost Guyana's sugar production and the remainder to protect low-lying coastal areas from flooding.

President Donald Ramotar had suspended the opposition-controlled legislature

in November to avoid a no-confidence vote and later

dissolved it ahead of the

elections.

Large hotel abruptly

closes in Puerto Rico

A large hotel in one of the main tourist districts of Puerto Rico has abruptly announced that it will close.

Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association President Miguel Vega says the Radisson Ambassador Plaza in the Condado district of San Juan will close today, Wednesday. He said it will result in the loss of about 200 jobs.

The website of local newspaper El Nuevo Dia reported Monday that the company announced the closure of the 233-room hotel to employees in a statement that said it had been operating under bank control for the past year while seeking a buyer.

The Ambassador has struggled in an economy that has been in recession for nearly a decade while its casino has faced increased competition from the proliferation of illegal slot machines.

S&P further downgrades Puerto Rico debt

Standard & Poor's has downgraded Puerto Rico's general obligation debt as legislators debate how to overhaul the US territory's tax system and generate more revenue amid a financial

crisis.

The credit rating agency says Puerto Rico's market access has weakened and expressed concern about a lack of consensus as the government prepares its 2016 fiscal budget. The announcement made late Friday comes just days after Puerto Rico's Government Development Bank warned the government could be forced to shut down in three months given a lack of funds.

The bank also said the government's fiscal problems could prevent it from accessing the capital market. Puerto Rico has said it plans to issue more than US$2 billion in general obligation bonds as the island struggles to reduce US$73 billion in

public debt.