Paraguay sees private investors in public sector

* Minister says concessions are not privatizations

* Sees Congress go-ahead for airport plan before year-end

By Daniela Desantis

ASUNCION, Sept 28 (BestGrowthStock) – Paraguay’s government will
send a bill to Congress next week that would allow private
investors to run the country’s airports, part of a $600 million
plan to encourage private investment in public services, the
public works minister told Reuters.

The left-leaning government also plans to grant operating
concessions for part of the landlocked country’s road network
and the Parana-Paraguay waterway, a key transport route for
soybeans from the world’s No. 4 exporter.

The plan represents the biggest economic reform led by
President Fernando Lugo since he took office in 2008 on a
moderate, leftist platform.

“This is not a privatization process. It would be a
concession, and concessions in airport and road sectors have
been successful in the region and worldwide,” Public Works and
Communications Minister Efrain Alegre told Reuters.

“We want this to mark the opening of the public sector to
private (investors), which would allow us to inject capital …
to create jobs and development,” Alegre said in an interview on
Monday.

Paraguay’s gross domestic product grew 12.2 percent in the
second quarter, indicating the economy could expand by more
than the 9 percent currently forecast for this year, the
central bank said on Monday. [ID:nN27268739]

However, the central bank sees growth slowing in 2011, and
analysts say more investments will be needed to fuel economic
growth in the next few years.

Paraguay’s opposition-controlled Congress has blocked
government-proposed bills in the past, but Alegre said he
expected the $100 million airport project to get the go-ahead
this year because it has been praised by private investors.

“This makes us think that the bidding could start next
year,” he said.

Alegre said several companies have shown an interest in
operating airports in Paraguay, including Spain’s Iberia
(IBLA.MC: ) and Corporacion America, which runs an airport in
Uruguay and several more in neighboring Argentina.
(Writing by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Paraguay sees private investors in public sector