'We're confident' the $10B growth program will succeed: Canada Infrastructure Bank Chair Michael Sabia
Three years after its launch, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) is ready to get down to some serious business.
“The bank has solid foundations now,” Michael Sabia, chair of the CIB, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Thursday. “Has it taken some time to build those foundations? Yes it has. Arguably has it taken perhaps too long? Perhaps.”
“But the foundations are in place, and it’s the solidness of those foundations that gives us the confidence now going forward.”
That plan, outlined Thursday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, mapped out how the bank will invest the rest of the $10 billion available to it over the next seven years, including agricultural, clean power and low-emission projects as well as a boost to high-speed internet services nationwide.
What’s changed – according to Sabia, who was formerly chief executive officer at the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec – is that the bank has more freedom to determine its own investment strategies within those broader mandates.
“They have given, if I can put it this way, their program approval for these broad areas,” Sabia said. “But now the decision-making with respect to individual investments - and this is a significant change from the past, because in the past that process was problematic - what’s changed now is [that] the authority to make investments is now the responsibility of the senior management and the board of the bank. That will enable us to take these foundations that have been built, to take the good ideas that we have with respect to infrastructure projects and to make them happen.”
Sabia added that the bank will announce a new CEO “in the coming weeks.”
As part of its new “bottom-up” approach, Sabia said that the bank will now be able to sink its cash into a new category of investment: The ability to push projects over the line and attract more private funds.
“[The bank] can push projects over the viability threshold, can make them more attractive than they would otherwise be to private capital,” he said.
“We take one dollar of taxpayer investment capital and we turn it into two or three dollars of impact.”