Obama seeks private-sector partners to "rebuild" U.S.

Miami, Mar 29 (EFE).- President Barack Obama announced here Friday a public-private program of infrastructure to "rebuild" the United States and create jobs.

"I'm expanding on a proposal I made in the State of the Union. I'm calling it a Partnership to Rebuild America," he said in a speech at Miami's port, where a $2 billion overhaul involving both public and private money is under way.

"It's a partnership with the private sector that creates jobs upgrading what our businesses need most - modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children," Obama said.

The president talked about the ongoing construction of a tunnel designed to ease access to the Port of Miami.

"Now, what these outstanding folks here in Miami have been doing is a good example of how my plan would work," he said, describing the project to lessen the congestion caused by port-bound cargo trucks having to cross downtown streets.

"State, county, and local governments got together and agreed to jointly fund PortMiami Tunnel. Everybody had some skin in the game. They did something else - they partnered with a group of private sector companies to finance the design and construction of the project," Obama said.

"Because of those efforts, construction workers are on the job digging this tunnel, doing great jobs, getting good pay, boosting the economy, strengthening it for the long run," he said.

"We can do this not just here in Miami-Dade, but we can do this all across the country," the president said.

The first element of the plan is creating "an independent fund that will attract private investment to build projects like this one, and make sure companies share in the risk and returns," he said.

To help states and localities attract private investors for public projects, Obama advocated an initiative called America Fast Forward bonds.

"Number three," he said, "we'll strengthen a loan program that, in recent years, has helped governors and mayors leverage four times the money Washington put into it, and that means we're helping construction workers get on the job quicker, repaying taxpayers their hard-earned money faster."

His is a plan that both Democrats and Republicans can support, the president said.

"Building better roads and bridges and schools, that's not a partisan idea," Obama said. "We can't afford Washington politics to stand in the way of America's progress."