December 1, 2016 / 9:47 PM / 2 years ago

Peru aims to quickly auction off $34 bln of projects

PARACAS, Lima, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Peru will aim to quickly auction off $34 billion in proposed projects from highways to new mines to revive slumping investments and bring sorely needed development to rural areas, the new head of state bidding agency Proinversion told Reuters on Thursday.

Alvaro Quijandria, who was appointed two weeks ago, said he is carrying out reforms in Proinversion that will make the agency more efficient and more active in far-flung provinces where public work investments have stalled in recent years.

Proinversion contracts will be designed as public-private partnerships, Quijandria said.

“From the portfolio of projects, 44 are state initiatives and 63 are from the private sector which we’ll improve and help untangle from permits so they can happen faster,” Quijandria said in an interview on the sidelines of a business summit in the coastal town of Paracas south of Lima.

Proinversion will likely launch bidding on a cross-Andean highway and a railway to link two Andean towns in the first quarter, Quijandria said, declining to comment on how the projects might cost.

Quijandria also said it was too early to talk about what a new public auction for a natural gas pipeline project would look like if the government decides to terminate Brazilian construction company Odebrecht SA’s current concession as financing needed for construction has been stuck for more than a year.

Peru is a leading global producer of copper, zinc and gold and enjoys one of the fastest growth rates in the region. But development in rural areas lags far behind the capital Lima, despite millions in mining proceeds that go to local governments every year.

Quijandria said local authorities often lack the technical know-how needed to build meaningful public works in their districts, and that Proinversion would make sure they had help.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won this year’s election on promises to boost sluggish domestic demand and job creation by ramping up investments in infrastructure projects.

Kuczynski’s government has criticized big public contracts awarded to a single bidders during the previous government and has promised that auctions would be more competitive during his term. (Reporting By Marco Aquino, Writing by Mitra Taj; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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