Russia's Putin pledges $55 billion to infrastructure upgrade

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - President Vladimir Putin says Russia will channel at least US$43 billion (S$55 billion) towards ambitious infrastructure projects to upgrade ageing roads and railways across the vast country.

Russia is struggling to spur economic growth, which is expected to be only 2.4 per cent this year, the lowest in more than a decade.

Addressing an international economic forum on Friday, President Putin said that at least half of Russia's rainy-day fund, which totals US$86 billion, will be used to build a new highway in the region around Moscow, a high-speed rail link between Moscow and Kazan and upgrade the Trans-Siberian Railway. He did not indicate how many years the programme would take to complete.

Industry experts have warned about the dangers of corruption in executing major infrastructure projects.