(Recasts with official comments and context)
By Alonso Soto and Luciana Otoni
BRASILIA, July 10 (Reuters) - Brazil raised the rate of return on new highway concessions and will do the same for other infrastructure projects to woo much-needed investment into the sluggish economy, a senior government official said on Friday.
The government hiked the rate of return for highways to 9.2 percent from a previous 7.2 percent, marking a change in stance by President Dilma Rousseff, who has been criticized for scaring off investors with below-market rates of return.
Deputy Planning Minister Dyogo de Oliveira said in an interview the government will raise internal return rates, or IRR, on port, airport and railway projects as financing costs climb in Brazil.
“The cost of capital in Brazil has increase and the IRR has to reflect that. We will review the IRR for other modalities,” Oliveira said. “Without a doubt a higher IRR makes those projects more attractive for investors.”
Facing an imminent recession, Rousseff has adopted more market-friendly policies to lure investors to her new 198.4 billion reais ($62.61 billion) plan to overhaul the country’s decaying infrastructure.
The IRR is a measure of return on an investment that takes both the size and timing of cash flows into account. The final return rate could fluctuate depending on the highway project and its capital structure.
Oliveira said he will discuss financing options to the projects with the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank in a trip to the United States next week. The two Multilateral lenders are willing to issue debt in the local currency to finance some of the concessions, Oliveira said.
The government plans to auction four roads this year as part its plan to sell 4,371 kilometers (2,716 miles) of highways to reduce steep transportation costs that drive up the price of commodity exports.
With the new plan the government expects 66.1 billion reais in investments in highways, 86.4 billion in railways, 37.4 billion in ports and 8.5 billion in airports. Auctions for the airport concessions will start in the first quarter of 2016.
A previous effort by Rousseff to lure 210 billion reais in private investment in 2012 managed to attract only about 20 percent of the targeted funds, with no bidders at all for the 14 railways and 160 port terminals on offer. (Reporting by Alonso Soto and Luciana Otoni; Editing by Christian Plumb and Richard Chang)