Chile's congress approves US$9bn infra fund

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The lower chamber of Chile's congress gave final approval to the bill that creates a US$9bn infrastructure fund and a new state agency to manage it. Now, President Michelle Bachelet only needs to sign the bill into law, the public works ministry (MOP) said.

The lower house approved a version of the bill that was crafted by a conciliation committee formed after the senate rejected a series of amendments added by the lower house. One amendment included the removal of a provisional article that fixed the formula according to which the state would provide capital contributions in the five years following the fund's creation.

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This article, however, was backed by both chambers of congress after having been reinstated by the conciliation committee.

Covering general transport infrastructure, border crossings and other public works, the fund aims to expand, conserve, develop, and invest in infrastructure projects.

Chile's finance ministry will hold 99% and business development agency Corfo 1%. The US$9bn funding would come from resources generated by road tolls as concession periods expire.

Administration will fall to a five-member board of directors appointed by the executive; two members will be proposed by the public works ministry, and each member will serve four years.

During its passage through congress, the project was amended to include all infrastructure projects, instead of just highway developments.

After the approval, public works minister Alberto Undurraga described this project as "the most important public-private investment initiative since the creation of the concession system," and that it would add to the US$6.7bn in projects the current administration will leave in execution as government changes in March.