FM lists Rs.6-lakh crore government assets to be sold in four years

Deccan Chronicle.  | Madhusudan Sahoo

Nation, Current Affairs

Roads, rail and power projects top list, states allowed to sell PSUs

Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman addresses during the launch of National Monetisation Pipeline, in New Delhi, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (PTI/Manvender Vashist)

New Delhi: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced a Rs 6-lakh crore National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) plan, listing out the government's infrastructure assets to be sold over the next four years. The projects have been identified across sectors, with roads, railways and power making up the top three segments. Also, the states will be incentivised to monetise public sector assets, with 30 to 100 per cent interest-free loan assistance, depending on the monetisation mode.

Ms Sitharaman clarified that the NMP plan does not mean “selling land”, rather it talks about brownfield assets where investments are already being made and where there are assets either languishing or not fully monetised or underutilised.

"For those who have this question in mind -- are we selling the land? No. The NMP is talking about brownfield assets that need to be better monetised. By bringing in private participation, we are going to monetise it (assets) better and with whatever resources that you obtained by monetisation, you are able to put further investment into infrastructure building,” she said, launching the government’s mega NMP plan here.

According to the Niti Aayog, the NMP plan will serve as a medium-term roadmap for the government’s asset monetisation initiative. For this, the Centre has finalised Rs 6 lakh crores worth of infrastructure assets that will be monetised.

Elaborating, Ms Sitharaman said: “The ownership of assets remains with the government. There will be a mandatory handback. They (private sector partners) will have to give it back after a certain time. Also, by bringing in private participation, the government is going to monetise its assets better.”

The finance minister further said the Centre will also incentivise states to monetise their public assets. “The incentives will be given by the Centre to states as 50-year, interest-free loans. Up to Rs 5,000 crores’ financial assistance is already budgeted as 50-year interest-free loans for states for the current year,” she said.

“If the states divest a PSU and raise funds, the government will give them 100 per cent of that amount as financial assistance. If they monetise the asset, then government will give them 33 per cent of that amount. If the states list a public company in the stock markets and raise funds, the Central government will be give them 50 per cent of that amount,” she added.

The finance minister also said this year's Budget identified infrastructure as a key focus for public spending. For the NMP plan, the Centre has identified highways, railways and power as top three sectors for asset monetisation. “Fifteen railway stadiums, 25 airports and the stake of the Central government in existing airports and 160 coal mining projects will be up for monetisation,” Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said.

“We feel that it is very important to bring in the private sector for better operation and maintenance. Therefore, we are committed to very strong delivery on the ground¸” Mr Kant added.