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By Omar Mariluz
LIMA, March 21 (Reuters) - Peru plans to launch joint public-private sector investment projects totaling more than $10 billion this year and next, Finance Minister Luis Miguel Castilla said on Wednesday.
“Investment is vital to keep (economic) growth rates above 6 percent,” Castilla said, adding that the investment programs would begin in May and that 40 percent of total funds for the projects would come from the private sector and the rest from the public sector.
Solid domestic demand has fueled Peru’s economy, helping it to withstand downward pressures from Europe’s debt crisis and slow U.S. growth. Peru is on track to be one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America this year.
Peru’s economy grew nearly 7 percent last year and is on track to grow around 5.7 percent in 2012.
The projects will be parceled out through concessions, the finance minister said.
“Investors from abroad have shown great interest in the country but wanted to know the portfolio amounts specified with not only a year, but a much broader term to define their investment plans,” he said.
Castilla said that in total will be 26 projects such as construction and road rehabilitation, plus construction and expansion of airports and natural gas pipelines.
In an interview with Reuters last week, Castilla said he has ramped up public investment by 30 percent this year after last year’s restrictive fiscal stance. He also said there were $70 billion in investments lined up for the next four or five years, with half in mining and the rest in sectors including infrastructure and services.
The biggest mining project, the $4.8 billion Conga gold mine of U.S.-based Newmont Mining, has faced delays.
But private-sector investment is recovering as confidence builds in the government of President Ollanta Humala, a former leftist hardliner who took office in July 2011 and recast himself as a market-friendly centrist.
Castilla said private-sector investment should rise 10 percent this year, an improvement from recent months, but still lagging the brisk rates registered nearly two years ago when the Andean country’s economy was growing by almost 10 percent. (Reporting by Omar Mariluz and Marco Aquino; Writing by Luis Andres Henao, Editing by W Simon, G Crosse)