Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 1
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced an allocation of Rs 5.54 lakh crore – an increase of 34.5 per cent over the previous fiscal (2020-21) – as capital expenditure for infrastructure projects for FY 2021-22.
Presenting Budget proposals in the House, Sitharaman said Rs 44,000 crore out of Rs 5.54 lakh crore would be kept aside for projects/programmes/departments that show good progress on capital expenditure and are in need of further funds.
Sitharaman said, in addition, Rs 2 lakh crore would be provided to states and autonomous bodies for their capital expenditure.
The Finance Ministry will also work out specific mechanisms to nudge states to spend more of their budget on creation of infrastructure, said the Finance Minister.
Sitharaman said the huge outlay on capital expenditure would help in realising the goal of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) announced in 2019.
She said the NIP was a specific target which the government was committed to achieve.
Launched with 6,835 projects, the project pipeline has now expanded to 7,400 projects. Around 217 projects under the NIP – worth Rs 1.10 lakh crore under some key infrastructure ministries – have been completed already, the Minister informed.
Two more initiatives announced by Sitharaman with a view to achieve the target set by the NIP are setting up of institutional structures for debt financing and monetising assets.
Regarding creation of institutional structure for debt financing, Sitharaman proposed setting up a professionally managed Development Financial Institution (DFI) “to act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing”.
The DFI will start with an initial corpus of Rs 20,000 crore provided by the government. The ambition is to have a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 lakh crore for the DFI in three years.
Sitharaman said monetising operating public infrastructure assets was an important option for financing new infrastructure construction. Five operational roads with an estimated enterprise value of Rs 5,000 crore were being transferred to the NHAI-sponsored Infrastructure Investment Trust for this purpose, she said.
Similarly, transmission assets worth Rs 7,000 crore will be transferred to the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, Sitharaman added.
Railways will monetise Dedicated Freight Corridor assets for operations and maintenance after commissioning. The next lot of airports will be monetised for operations and management concession, she said.
Other core infrastructure assets that will be rolled out under the Asset Monetisation Programme will consist the NHAI operated toll roads, transmission assets of PGCIL, oil and gas Pipelines of GAIL, IOCL and HPCL, AAI airports in Tier II and III cities, Railways infrastructure assets, warehousing assets of centre public sector enterprises (CPSEs) like Central Warehousing Corporation and NAFED, and sports stadiums.