AFTER a spell at the World Bank, the architect of rail privatisation in Argentina has returned home to take up a weighty portfolio. Appointed as Secretary of Transport in December last year, Jorge Kogan was soon briefing journalists on how he intended to tackle the thorny issue of renegotiating the concessions to operate suburban services in Buenos Aires.

During its last days in power, the Menem administration had approved new contracts with Metropolitano and Ferrovías, but the decree making them law was suspended following a legal challenge. This was also the fate of the contracts with Trenes de Buenos Aires that had been confirmed by decree as long ago as March 16 (RG 7.99 p426).

Speaking just before Christmas, Kogan said that the new administration would for the moment allow these challenges to run their course, aiming to have its renegotiation strategy in place within 45 days. With suburban operators now approaching the limits of present capacity some five years earlier than expected, Kogan reckons that investment is the key issue with no less than US$250m required in the short term. Other matters, including the length of the renegotiated concessions and the emotive issue of fare rises, will be considered in the light of the investment question. n