Brazil unveils USD 66 bln stimulus plan

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff has launched a USD 65.6 bln stimulus package to spur investment in the country’s creaking infrastructure and shore up ailing investor confidence in the world’s second-largest emerging market economy, CNN informs. In the first of what are expected to be a series of announcements in the coming weeks, Ms Rousseff said the government would sell concessions in nine highways and 12 railways before moving onto other areas of infrastructure. Brazil’s economy has slowed to a crawl over the past 12 months as inadequate infrastructure including roads and ports and a shortage of skilled labour has raised costs and stifled industry. The economy expanded 7.5 per cent in 2010, the fastest pace in more than two decades, but last year slowed to 2.7 per cent and this year is expected to grow 2 per cent or less. Among the initiatives, the government will sell rights for private companies to operate 7,500 km of roads and 10,000 km of railways. The measures would double the capacity of the country’s main highways, transport minister Paulo Passos said at the event. The cost of exporting a container from Brazil is more than double that of China and 1.5 times that of India while the country’s ports are notorious for delays. Analysts hailed it as the start of a new era for Brazil. “With a government willing to make politically difficult decisions … this downturn may end up being a boon for Brazil in its quest for global economic status,” Stratfor, the political intelligence agency, said.The centre-left coalition government led by Ms Rousseff’s Workers’ party has traditionally been opposed to privatizations. But she has proven pragmatic in the face of infrastructure bottlenecks.

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