Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi will chair webinars on infrastructure (infra) and divestment-related budget announcements on March 8 and 9, respectively.
The objectives of these meetings will be to reflect with experts from the public and private sectors, academia and industry, and to identify strategies on how best to move forward towards the implementation of various issues in different sectors. .
The Ministry of Finance said in a statement that Tuesday’s webinar will see the participation of 16 ministries, NITI Aayog, the Capacity Building Commission and state governments. It will also include participation from regulatory bodies such as Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, GIFT City, industry associations, subject matter experts and the investment community.
While the official statement only spoke about the infra meeting, sources told Business Standard that a similar webinar will be held on Wednesday on privatization, asset monetization and other government divestment plans. These are part of a series of post-budget interactions chaired by the Prime Minister and hosted by various ministries on the implementation of budget announcements.
“Representatives from various infra companies, real estate investment trusts, infra investment trusts and funds will attend the webinar on Tuesday. The focus will be on various means of infrastructure financing, project implementation and opportunities for the private sector,” an official said.
According to the ministry, the webinar will feature breakout sessions on topics such as financing infrastructure, financing sectors with high employment potential, creating infrastructure enablers, navigating the digital opportunity for banking. and finance, climate and sustainable finance, and financing for emerging sectors.
“Through the webinar, the Ministry of Finance seeks to gain valuable insights on ways to accelerate the pace and achieve the themes agenda. By leveraging the expertise and experience of stakeholders, a action plan for effective implementation of growth reforms will be catalyzed,” he said.
High-multiplier infrastructure projects are central to the Centre’s plans to revive the economy after three waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus will be on roads, railways, airports, ports, public transport, waterways and logistics infrastructure as outlined in the PM Gati Shakti mission. The Center will also provide a boost in power transmission, technology, bulk water and sewage, and social infrastructure.
To this end, the capital expenditure (capex) target for 2022-23 (FY23) as set by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is Rs 7.5 trillion, of which Rs 1 trillion in 50-year interest-free loans to states for their capex needs.
The platform for the Centre’s infra push is the Rs 111 trillion National Infrastructure Pipeline for the period 2020-2025. Energy, road, rail and urban projects are estimated to account for the bulk of the projects at around 70%. The Center (39%) and the States (40%) are expected to have an almost equal share in project implementation, while the private sector has a 21% share.
Wednesday’s meeting on divestment, asset monetization and privatization will focus on how the private sector can participate in those plans, sources said.
The National Monetization Pipeline seeks to lease Rs 6 trillion of government and public sector assets to the private sector, which can mine them and share part of the proceeds with the treasury.
For 2021-22 (FY22), plans to privatize the Center have once again been derailed due to the pandemic. Although Air India was eventually sold to Tata Sons, plans to privatize Bharat Petroleum, Pawan Hans, Neelachal Ispat Nigam, Shipping Corporation of India, Central Electronics and Container Corporation of India are still pending. The revised FY22 estimate has been lowered to Rs 78,000 crore, from the budget estimate of Rs 1.75 trillion.
However, the revised target may not be met as global uncertainty due to war in Europe means the Center is considering going public with Life Insurance Corporation of India. The divestment target for FY23 is Rs 65,000 crore.