Chile to speed up $4 billion infrastructure plan to jolt economy

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile’s government will accelerate a $4 billion infrastructure program this year to reinvigorate the South American country’s slow-growing economy, President Sebastián Piñera said on Tuesday.

The president, whose popular support has fallen amid tepid economic growth, said the initiatives would include work on highways, airports and reservoirs.

“It’s a powerful plan of economic reactivation, which will allow us to strengthen our country’s capacity to grow, to create jobs, and to improve wages,” the center-right president said at a public ceremony.

The aim is to add investments of $2 billion in the period 2018-2020, building on plans announced earlier this month to support public infrastructure projects.

Chile’s gross domestic product edged up 1.6% in the first quarter, while economic activity indicators rose less than expected in April.

Chile’s labor minister, Nicolás Monckeberg, also said on Tuesday that the government will push through Congress with “extreme urgency” pension reform plans.

Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky