Mexico's president Monday eyed $309 billion in private and public investments to improve the country's infrastructure during his six-year term by modernizing roads, building passenger trains and boosting the energy sector.
President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in December, said the flow of investments during the 2013-2018 period will depend on the approval of a fiscal reform that will be sent to the congress in September.
"I am convinced that one of the fundamental elements to transform our country is to develop infrastructure throughout the length and width of the national territory," Pena Nieto said in a speech at the historic National Palace.
The goal is to build new seaports, improve airports and provide universal access to telecommunications.
He said Mexico will build and modernize 19,000 kilometers (11,800 miles) of roads and 371 kilometers (230 miles) of railways as well as to launch three high-speed trains. Pena Nieto has pledged to bring back passenger train service to Mexico.
Investments will also be channeled toward the water and power utility companies and the country's state-run energy giant Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), but he gave few details amid plans to introduce legislation to attract more private investment to Pemex.
Lamenting the disappointing growth of infrastructure in Latin America's second biggest economy, Pena Nieto said the program is aimed at "converting Mexico into a great, global logistical center."
The massive public works project aims to better connect regions and remote communities; speed up cargo train transport and revive passenger service; build four seaports; and improve Mexico City's saturated international airport.
"Everybody knows with more infrastructure, more competitiveness and productivity, economic growth will take off and social well-being go up," Pena Nieto said.
According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index, Mexico ranks 68th out of 144 nations when it comes to infrastructure.
In October 2008, then-president Felipe Calderon launched a $4.1 billion infrastructure program to offset the effects of the global financial crisis on Mexico's economy.
The size of Pena Nieto's plan surprised analysts, who had expected investments of $31 billion in the transport and communications sector.
"Spending in this type of public works will be felt in the last quarter of this year, when public spending will go back up," Issac Velasco, analysts with the brokerage firm Ve por Mas, told AFP.
The government's plan would be equivalent to 25 percent of the country's gross domestic product, Velasco said.
Mexico's economy grew by 3.9 percent last year, but it slowed down in the first quarter, leading the government to reduce its 2013 forecast to 3.1 percent.