Monday, May 3, 2010
Defense Funds Tapped for Earthquake Reconstruction
Chile will take $1.2 billion from funds initially set aside for weapons purchases to finance reconstruction programs. Half the sum will be spent directly on rebuilding projects, according to details provided by Defense Minister Jaime Ravinet. The armed forces will spend the other half to rehabilitate their own facilities damaged in the Feb. 27 earthquake. Specifically, $150 million will go to army facilities, $200 million to the heavily damaged Asmar shipyard, and $250 million to other military installations. Chile's legislature still must approve the funding, which would be spread out over this year and next. The $1.2 billion represents roughly a third of a funding pool that swelled thanks to soaring copper prices. Chile's state-owned copper company is mandated to give 10% of export sales to the military. But Chile is working to replace that system with another that doesn't rely on copper sales. The Asmar shipyard was the military installation most severely damaged in the quake. Chile recently signed an accord with Argentina to have that country take some of the work that Asmar cannot complete on time.