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MEDELLIN Aug 14 Colombian financial entities
and multilateral lenders will be key to raising the $25 billion
needed to fund a massive highway project the government hopes
will modernize the nation and boost economic growth, Finance
Minister Mauricio Cardenas said on Thursday.
Cardenas' comments come just days after he postponed the
sale of the government's majority stake in electricity generator
Isagen for as long as a year. The privatization aims to
raise as much as $3 billion for the so-called fourth generation,
or 4G, infrastructure project.
"It's essential for this program to be as big as it was
designed to be, that its financing works well, and for that we
need the banks, pension funds," Cardenas told an industrial
conference in Medellin.
The government is pinning hopes that spending on roads and
tunnels will keep the economy growing as revenue from the oil
sector begins to recede. GDP accelerated 6.4 percent in the
first quarter on the back of growth in the construction sector
as growth in energy began to slow.
The International Finance Corporation, the financing arm of
the World Bank, and the Corporacion Andina de Fomento have
agreed to help fund the project, he said.
Cardenas said credit rating agencies have signaled that
construction of the roadways is key to Colombia's sovereign debt
rating being boosted from BBB.
(Reporting by Carlos Vargas and Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by
Helen Murphy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)