Chilean President proposes $9bn infra fund

The initiative would also create a national infrastructure corporation that would be 99% owned by the Treasury.

Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean President, has introduced a proposal to create a $9 billion infrastructure fund and a national infrastructure corporation. 

The corporation would oversee the construction, extension, repair, maintenance, operation, development, financing and funding of infrastructure projects, including ancillary services, according to a statement from the Ministry of Public Works. 

Bachelet said the new entity would focus on “roads, highways, ports, airports, border crossings, and a broad portfolio of projects that increase the connectivity of our territories and facilitate the exchange of Chile with the world”. It would be 99 percent owned by the treasury and 1 percent owned by state development agency CORFO. 

“Through the presentation of this bill to create an infrastructure fund, today we continue to face the challenge of strengthening our economy and making it a space of higher productivity and growth,” Bachelet said at a news conference last week.  

The fund would be led by a five-member board of directors populated by representatives of the treasury department and the ministers of finance and public works. Members of the board would be appointed for four-year terms renewable by the president. The public works ministry would appoint three of the members, with the national Senior Public Management Council would select the remaining two. 

The ministry-appointed board members could include the likes of current undersecretaries, department heads and parliamentarians, labor or trade union leaders, mayors, and candidates for elected office. SPMC appointees, which would act independently, would need to be unaffiliated with the infrastructure fund or the companies involved in the fund. 

The new corporation would be a private, for-profit enterprise, and therefore would be subject to supervision by the Superintendency of Securities and the Office of the Comptroller General. Undurraga called its creation “the most important public-private partnership initiative since the creation of the concession system 20 years ago” in Chile. 

Valdes stressed during the news conference that the fund would be self-sufficient by design, and should not add weight to already burdened agency budgets.   

The proposal is expected to be introduced to Congress sometime this week.