With the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) having received a mandate from the budget to raise Rs 70,000 crore through infrastructure bonds and easy availability of low cost overseas loans for the AAA rated NHAI, the government’s road and highway building programme has enough cash to build the crucial infrastructure, Road Transport, Highway and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has said.
“We have signed the contracts worth Rs five lakh crore for infrastructure, roads, ports. It is a very remarkable contribution from our investors…we do not have any problem, we are receiving public, private investment, we are receiving good response for the Public-Private Partnership, Build-Operate-Transfer and hybrid annuity (models)”, Gadkari told ASSOCHAM.TV in an interview.
He said as many as 101 projects are ready for takeoff and funding the same would not be a problem. “For NHAI, triple AAA rating is there. We already have permission from the Finance Minister for raising Rs 70,000 crore infrastructure bonds…My toll income is Rs 10,000 crore per year. So, I can monetise for 15 years (and) I get Rs 2 lakh crore. There are 101 projects which are ready with where I am going to monetise, and I will get Rs 1.25 lakh crore. So money is not the problem”, the senior minister said.
Sharing a similar optimism for the port sector, Gadkari said “…we are getting Rs 3,000 crore in dollar loans with 2.25 per cent interest and we can raise Rs 50,000 crore without hedge with two per cent interest”.
He made these optimistic observations in response to a question by ASSOCHAM. TV as how realistic the plans for the entire transport sector were when the private sector, in particular, was facing a severe financial stress. The balance sheet stress is visible across different large contract firms in sectors such as roads, highways, ports and airports.
Gadkari said his ministry was working on a number of waterway projects for improving the inland connectivity within big metros like Mumbai and for inter-city connectivity. During his recent visit to Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum annual meeting, the minister said, he received a good response from the global investors for an array of infrastructure projects including water sports and skiing.