SAO JOAO DA BARRA, Brazil (Reuters) - Brazil's federal government could increase the amount it spends on new transportation infrastructure in 2016 to 5 billion reais (US$1.45 billion) from about 1 billion reais, Transportation Minister Maurício Quintella said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the opening of an oil transshipment terminal at the port of Acu, Quintella told reporters investment priorities for this year were the BR163 highway, connecting Brazil's centre-west soybean country with ports in the Amazon region, and BR101, which links cities on Brazil's Atlantic coast.
"With all the work the government is doing to clean up its accounts, I'm confident we will be able to increase our budget this year," he said.
Early in 2016 the government of now suspended President Dilma Rousseff budgeted 8 billion reais for federal transportation infrastructure spending, which was later cut to 5.5 billion reais as Brazil's worst recession in decades deepened.
That amount has since been trimmed by the government of interim President Michel Temer, who took over from Rousseff in May. Rousseff was removed while she stands for an impeachment trial on charges that she broke budget laws.
Quintela said his ministry total 2016 budget now stands at about 1 billion reais after the government used most of the previous resources to pay transportation infrastructure bills left from 2015.
Quintela, though, is hopeful that its budget will be restored to levels close to the original 8 billion reais in coming reviews of government priorities, of which he expects he would be able to spend around 5 billion reais in the highway projects.
(Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Bernard Orr)