Chile proposes $9 billion infrastructure fund
SANTIAGO May 3 (Reuters) - Chile on Tuesday unveiled plans to create an infrastructure fund to spur public works investment and spark the sluggish economy, and will send legislation on the fund to Congress as early as next week, officials said.
The fund would be 99 percent controlled by the Treasury and 1 percent by state development agency Corfo, and have assets of around $9 billion, Minister for Public Works Alberto Undurraga said at a news conference. The shares would be non-transferable.
"The infrastructure fund will be a new, dynamic tool, which we think will be very powerful for the continuing development of our country," said Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who led the conference.
Center-left Bachelet first floated the idea in August, partially in a bid to jump-start the economy of the world's top copper producer, whose growth has been curbed by low commodities prices.
Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdes said the fund would be self-sufficient and should not put more pressure on government agencies' squeezed budgets.
"When an infrastructure concession expires, that has value, and we are not using that value today in Chile," Valdes told reporters after the conference.
He said the government planned to send the project to legislators as soon as next week.
The bill would reach Congress at a time when the legislative calendar is already full. Congress is debating modifications to a major labor reform law that was severely watered down by the courts last week.
"It takes time and energy of course ... but we can do more than one thing," said Valdes. "If there is more infrastructure in Chile at the end of the day we can save time and costs."
(Reporting by Antonio de la Jara and Gram Slattery; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Richard Chang)
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