A Nicaraguan official says a concession to build a canal linking the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea will be awarded to a Chinese company.

National Assembly president Rene Nunez says the company will use funds from investors around the world to build the $40 billion project.

Nunez made the comment Wednesday after two bills for streamlining the process of building the canal and assessing its environmental impact were presented to lawmakers.

Opposition congressman Luis Callejas says lawmakers have been asked to discuss the bills Friday. Callejas says the government plans to grant the Chinese company a concession for 100 years.

Nunez says the project is very important for Nicaragua and is being pursued with urgency. He wouldn't identify the company or discuss the concession.