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Trump transition team reportedly considering infrastructure bank

Steven Mnuchin, national finance chairman for Republican president-elect Donald Trump, arrives at Trump Tower in New York, U.S. November 15, 2016.

CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS

A key member of Donald Trump's transition team said the incoming administration is exploring ways to fund fixing bridges and roads including by establishing an "infrastructure bank," a concept Hillary Clinton promoted and the Republican's campaign had previously derided.

Steven Mnuchin, a member of the team's executive committee who was recommended for the position of Treasury secretary, said in brief comments to reporters Wednesday that a "very big focus is regulatory changes, looking at the creation of an infrastructure bank to fund infrastructure investments."

Mr. Trump's campaign had criticized Ms. Clinton's proposed infrastructure bank as being "controlled by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington" and funded by a "$275-billion [U.S.] tax increase on American businesses."

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The president-elect's economic advisers previously said infrastructure spending can be unleashed without creating a government entity. They released a plan in October advocating the provision of as much as $140-billion in tax credits to support $1-trillion in infrastructure investment, which would offset the credits through tax revenue from the projects' labour wages and business profits.

Mr. Mnuchin and spokespeople for Mr. Trump didn't immediately respond to requests to elaborate.

According to Ms. Clinton's campaign website, her five-year plan would have allocated $250-billion to direct public investment in infrastructure and $25-billion to an infrastructure bank.

The new institution would leverage the funds to support as much as an additional $225-billion in loans, loan guarantees and other "forms of credit enhancement."

"The economic priorities are clearly taxes, regulatory, trade and infrastructure," Mr. Mnuchin said at the Trump Tower in New York.

"Right now, we're just all in the planning stages, you can see. We want to be in a position where in the first hundred days we can execute the economic plan."

Whether Mr. Trump's ultimate proposal involves an infrastructure bank or tax credits, the plan's success, if enacted, may depend partly on the extent to which private companies and investors find sufficient incentives to put up their own money for individual projects.

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