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MOR slates $67b for 38 rail projects

(Global Times)

08:14, February 27, 2013

China's Ministry of Railways (MOR) is planning to spend 420 billion yuan ($67.4 billion) this year on 38 railway projects, the Economic Information Daily under Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

The projects "include new railway buildings and the renovation of old ones," the report quoted an unnamed source as saying, noting that in addition to the 38 confirmed projects, a few more are in the works but still unconfirmed.

The MOR did not respond to calls from the Global Times Tuesday.

Railway Minister Sheng Guangzu announced earlier this year that the country will invest 620 billion yuan in railway development in 2013, of which 520 billion will go to infrastructure construction.

That means the ministry has yet to allot some 100 billion yuan of infrastructure funding.

Last year, the MOR said it would invest 406 billion yuan in railway construction, but ended up spending 516 billion.

Facing an escalating debt problem, the MOR is apparently speeding up its investment. Last month it invested 14.2 billion yuan into railway construction, a surge of 62.3 percent over a year earlier.

An insider told the Global Times Tuesday on condition of anonymity that because the ministry is "too big to fail," and the central government considers railway investment to be a tool of urbanization which can help boost the domestic economy as a whole, China will continue expanding railway construction for some time.

However, the MOR's large investment plan has raised some doubts as to its feasibility, as media reports said the MOR might be integrated into the Ministry of Transport after the country's leadership transition in March, and such a shakeup might put an end to old plans.

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