Mumbai: In an effort to boost infrastructure, the finance minister on Saturday announced infra projects worth Rs 103 lakh crore. She also promised that the government will soon release a logistic policy, besides accelerating highways construction. The finance minister said Rs 1.7 lakh crore has been provided for transport infrastructure in 2020-21. She said Rs 103 lakh crore projects, under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), was launched in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of `100 lakh crore infrastructure investment in five years. “The Prime Minister announced `100 lakh crore investment in infrastructure in next five years. NIP was launched on December 31, 2019 with Rs 103 lakh crore project pipeline...These new projects include housing, safe drinking water, clean energy, health, modern railway, airport, metro bus, logistics ...,” she said in her budget speech.
Sitharaman said: “NIP is improving the ease of living for every citizen. Generic and sectoral reforms are there...There is huge employment opportunity in construction, operation and maintenance of projects."
She said infrastructure agencies of the government will involve youth power in start-ups.
“A National Logistic Policy will soon be released,” she said and added that there will be a single logistic window.
Besides, accelerated development of highways will be taken up with 2,500 km access controlled highways and 9,000 km of economic corridor. In addition, there will be 2,000 km each of strategic highway projects and port connectivity projects, she said.
The minister said Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and two other projects will be completed by 2023 and 12 highway projects worth 6,000 km will be monetised before 2021. She said focus was also on Inland Waterways and Jal Vikas Marg development besides aviation. She said 100 more airports would be added by 2024 under the UDAN scheme. “Tax Concessions extended to Sovereign and Pension funds will go a long way in attracting Long term financing solutions for infrastructure Sector," said Sandeep Upadhyay, MD – Infrastruc-ture, Centrum Capital Ltd.
“The announcement of the ambitious National infrastructure pipeline and the optimism embedded in the GDP projections for FY 21 set out in the national economic survey released yesterday clearly demonstrated Government’s intent to unleash the Capital expenditure cycle. However one needs action on ground with a pragmatic approach,” he further said.
According to experts, given the challenges surrounding the current financial ecosystem characterising prolonged resistance to fund greenfield infrastructure projects by the Bank and domestic FIs, some of the key positive take aways from her speech today include confirming allocation of `22,000 disbursed to entities like IIFCL and NIIF to fund their equity base to finance the National Infrastructure Pipeline. The other positive move was about the liberal tax concession extended to Sovereign and pension funds investing into infrastructure sector. This would have major positive impact on launching InVITs with a renewed vigour for both public and private sector players including the likes of NHAI which has been contemplating monetising over 6000 kms of highways before 2024 as per the finance minister’s speech.
While the FM’s budget speech caters to the demands from the Sovere-ign and Pension funds rearing to invest in the Infrastructure sector however the concern is that their interest is largely revolving around buying operational assets with marginal contribution tow-ards new green field capacity addition, analysts said.
“Continued planned investment in transportation infrastructure including roads and highways, aviation, urban metro rail and highspeed intercity rail is a welcome step,” said Kshitish Nadgauda, Senior Vice President | Managing Director – Asia, Louis Berger said....