Reuters International

By Leonardo Goy

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil on Tuesday launched a multibillion-dollar plan to auction off oil, power rights and infrastructure concessions, in an attempt by the new government to bolster private investment in a moribund economy.

The government will sell operating licenses for airports in the cities of Porto Alegre, Salvador, Florianopolis and Fortaleza by the first quarter of 2017. It also plans to sell rights to operate federal roads in the centre-west and south regions later next year.

Center-right President Michel Temer has vowed to shift economic policy away from the interventionist policies of his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, that marred investors' confidence in the once-booming economy.

Rousseff, a leftist in her second term as president, was ousted by the Senate in August for breaking budget rules to conceal a massive deficit as the economy spiralled deeper into recession.

Under pressure to rescue Brazil's economy Temer is selling assets and pushing for a series of unpopular austerity reforms to staunch the bleeding of the fiscal accounts that has cost Brazil its investment-grade rating.

"We need to open up to the private sector because the state cannot do everything," Temer told ministers in a meeting to discuss the plan, dubbed "Project Growth."

The program includes the concession of railway projects that have already been built as well as the long-delayed auction of rights in oil fields and hydroelectric plants in the first and second half of 2017.

The government will also privatise six power distributors owned by state-run power holding company Eletrobras in the north and northeastern regions.

(Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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