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Brazil mulls decree to unlock road infrastructure investments: paper

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's government is putting the finishing touches on a decree changing toll-road contract requirements in a move that could unlock billions in infrastructure investments, according to the Sunday edition of newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo.

The government's plan, designed to avoid a cancellation and rebidding for the licenses, would introduce an amendment in existing contracts, giving more time for investors to extend the roads they operate under the terms of their concessions, the paper said, citing unnamed sources.

The new rules, however, would only benefit companies which rid themselves of partners involved in the Lava Jato corruption investigation, in a bid to bring in new money and operators, O Estado said, citing the same sources. The extensions for expanding roads would be conditional on reducing tolls or shortening overall concession periods, O Estado said.

The presidential chief of staff’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Lack of financing and an intricate set of legal requirements pertaining to the current toll-road contracts are delaying more than 30 billion reais  ($9.55 billion) in investments on Brazilian roads, O Estado said, quoting an industry group representing the operators.

The are 10,000 kilometers of federal roads operated under concession, including stretches of the BR-163 highway, a key corridor to move grains produced in Mato Grosso's agricultural heartland to export markets.

Improving the nation's logistics capabilities is key for Brazil, a top grain producer and exporter which relies heavily on trucks to transport agricultural goods.

(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Andrea Ricci)