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Chile needs long-term infrastructure planning, say conessionaires

Chile needs long-term infrastructure planning, say conessionaires

Posted by Juan Gavasa on March 13, 2014

With a US$100bn infrastructure deficit forecast for the end of this decade, Chile needs to embark on long-term, state policies to avoid a slowdown every four years when a new government takes office, concessionaires group Copsa told BNamericas.

Concessions tend to slow during a government's first years, as new authorities evaluate previous the administration's projects and start working on their own proposals. That was the case during Michelle Bachelet's first presidency and under Sebastián Piñera's administration.

And the story is set to be repeated. Bachelet will review Piñera's US$4bn reconstruction program implemented after the 2010 earthquake and tsunami and hospital concessions, three of which are in the process of being put out to tender. Another example is the US$700mn Chacao bridge project to connect southern Chiloé island with the mainland. The project began being discussed last decade, was ruled out during Bachelet's first stint in office in 2007 as too expensive, only to be reconsidered later by Piñera, who ended up awarding the project toward the end of his presidency.

Piñera's administration launched or awarded concessions for some U$6.7bn, below its US$8bn target, claiming there were no projects in the pipeline when it took office. "Chile has made significant progress, but today it is essential to strengthen this progress, increase it and, above all, understand that infrastructure, particularly in four-year governments, must be a long-term state policy, independent of the political cycle," Copsa president Rodrigo Álvarez said in an interview.

"That long-term view is needed, so we have promoted that challenge: making infrastructure a national policy that provides Chile with all the necessary elements to continue growing and developing. We think infrastructure is fundamental to get there."

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