Record Russian investment

By Chris Sleight23 May 2008

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has approved a seven-year, US$ 570 billion programme to overhaul and expand the country's transportation infrastructure. It is will be the largest infrastructure building scheme Russia has seen since the collapse of the USSR.

The spending plan calls for building 17000 km of roads, 3000 km of railways and more than 100 airport runways. In the maritime industry, the plan calls for an additional 400 million tonnes of cargo capacity to be added to Russia's ports.

About 30% of the funds for the investment programme are expected to come from Russian central budgets. The remainder will come from "non-budgetary funds" and Russian companies in the infrastructure sector. These include the likes of state-owned Russian Railways and shipping giant Sovkomflot. Funds are expected to be raised through bond issues, which the Russian government may underwrite.

"If we won't develop infrastructure, we won't have a future. This is the biggest investment program ever approved by the government," said Mr Putin. He added that dilapidated transportation networks act as a "brake on the economy." A report to the cabinet by Transportation Minister Igor Levitin is thought to say that as much as 70% of all railroads, highways, ports and airports are "outdated," and that 3 million Russians in some 40000 towns do not have year-round access to roads or railways.

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