Global Economy

Budget 2024: India looks for infra push; may tap funds from UK, Saudi & Japan

In the upcoming Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to prioritise infrastructure investment, which is considered vital for generating demand for steel, cement, and other inputs, as well as for creating jobs.

The Indian government is seeking to tap funds from the UK, Saudi Arabia, and Japan to finance its mega infrastructure ambitions, ToI reported.

Unlike previous efforts that involved broad commitments, this time the finance ministry and Niti Aayog have prepared a list of specific projects, such as a ring road around a tier II city or a large highway, for potential investment from these countries. The projects are designed to address investor concerns, and some investors are being offered equity in special purpose vehicles to execute them.

An “infrastructure bridge” with the UK is at an advanced stage, while talks with Saudi Arabia aim to activate a $100 billion commitment from the oil-rich nation, which has yet to materialize. The response from Saudi authorities has not been very positive so far.
In Japan’s case, the government is looking to attract investments from large pension funds instead of relying solely on the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), which funds projects under several conditions.

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The government is also looking at traditional long-duration funds from Canada, Australia, and other parts of the world. Investor protection and investment certainty are concerns that the government is seeking to address through existing mechanisms. Some UK investors have raised environmental issues, including those in road projects, which the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has addressed, ensuring that ESG criteria are part of the mandate for most projects.

To ensure that infrastructure construction progresses efficiently, the government is channeling resources from multiple sources. This effort is seen as crucial for economic growth. A significant portion of the resources is being allocated to transportation sectors, such as highways and railways, with public spending of Rs 11,11,111 crore focused on these areas. Green energy is another priority, with substantial private investment flowing into the sector.

(with ToI inputs)


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