* B20 wants governments to tackle a $57 trillion
* Says investment stymied by rules, approval delays
* Wants lighter regulation to encourage investment
(Adds detail on infrastructure shortfall, business concerns,
detail of meeting)
By Jane Wardell
SYDNEY, July 16 International business leaders
are lobbying the Group of 20 bloc of advanced and developing
countries to tackle a $57 trillion shortfall in global
infrastructure, pressing for changes to funding rules they say
would help big projects move ahead.
The Business 20 Group, which is holding a summit in Sydney
this week, criticised cumbersome global rules that make it hard
for large pension funds and insurance companies to invest in
major infrastructure projects.
Relaxing those rules and smoothing out approval and
procurement processes that, in some countries, can result in a
project taking 10 years to get the green light will be critical
if the G20 is to meet its ambitious growth targets, B20 leaders
"Infrastructure investment is one of those critical levers
you can pull that can drive into economic growth relatively
quickly," said David Thodey, Telstra Corp Ltd chief
executive and spokesman for the G20 on infrastructure issues.
The B20, set up in 2010 to give policy recommendations on
behalf of the international business community to the G20, has
estimated that at least $57 trillion will be needed to finance
infrastructure projects worldwide through 2030 to meet the
demands of global economic growth.
Despite that, Thodey said, there was no priority list of
global infrastructure projects, making it difficult for
potential investors to know where to start.
G20 finance ministers agreed in Sydney in February to draw
up "real and effective plans to lift the global economy" by more
than 2 percent "above the trajectory implied by current
policies" over five years. They meet again in Australia in
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey has criticised progress
towards the 2 percent goal as too slow. "Some countries like
China and increasingly Germany have been very supportive of our
goals, but there's more to be done," he told ABC radio.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group CEO Michael
Smith said one big problem was excessively tight financial
regulation imposed in the wake of the global financial crisis.
"We've heard the feedback from market participants that
regulation is unintentionally restricting financial inclusion,
deterring infrastructure investment and limiting the provision
of trade finance," said Smith, spokesman for a B20 task force on
"I'm not pre-empting things by saying that the task force
wants the G20 to pause, take stock and align global regulation."
Tackling the infrastructure deficit is one of four areas the
B20 says is critical to meeting the growth goal, alongside
financing growth, slashing unemployment and boosting investment
Australia is the host of this year's G20 meetings, a fact
that B20 sherpa Robert Milliner said gave credibility to the
talks, given Australia's record two decades of unbroken growth.
One issue that won't be on the table at the B20 talks is
corporate "profit shifting", which costs governments up to $3
trillion a year, according to researchers from Tax Justice
G20 finance ministers agreed in February to develop stricter
rules on cross-border taxation to close loopholes that have
allowed multinationals such as Starbucks Corp, Google
Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc to
avoid paying taxes.
Finance ministers endorsed a set of common standards for
sharing bank account information across borders with automatic
exchange of information among G20 members to take effect by the
end of 2015.
Richard Goyder, B20 Chair and CEO of Wesfarmers Ltd
, said the group endorsed a system under which taxes are
levied where the profits are made, but he expressed scepticism
that the G20 would be able to agree on a policy palatable to all
"We'll leave it to governments to sort out," he said.
(Editing by Alan Raybould)