Photo: Dilma Rousseff
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said during a ceremony Wednesday in which private companies signed contracts to manage two major federal highways that the South American giant was inspiring confidence among private-sector investors.
“Brazil has the great challenge of improving its infrastructure” and has the cooperation of the private sector in that pursuit, said Rousseff, who presided over the ceremony at the Planalto presidential palace.
The highway concessions were awarded last year as part of the government’s Logistics Investment Program, through which some 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles) of federal highways are to be placed under private management.
Rousseff acknowledged that “when this program began there was a lot of distrust,” but she said there was ample participation as the bidding process moved along due to the confidence Brazil inspired among business leaders.
Companies that have been awarded contracts to manage and renovate highways now must honor their commitments, the president said, adding that “if a project that should take five years ends up taking 10 that will also increase the expected cost.”
Rousseff also justified the charging of tolls on those highways, saying citizens would be “contributing” to necessary improvements to the national road network.
The contracts signed Wednesday cover stretches of the BR-040 and BR-163 federal highways.
The 936.8-kilometer (582-mile) stretch of BR-040 links the cities of Brasilia and Juiz de Fora and was awarded to Brazil’s Invepar, which is controlled by construction company OAS and the pension funds of Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petrobras and Banco do Brasil.
The contact gives Invepar fives years to double the width of the highway over 557.2 kilometers (346 miles) and requires the company to invest nearly 7.9 billion reais (some $3.3 billion) in expansion, modernization, repair and maintenance work.
The stretch of the BR-163 highway crosses the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, one of the nation’s centers of agricultural production, and was awarded to Brazilian group CCR, which has pledged to invest some 2 billion reais ($833.3 million) over five years.