The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) will start funding activities in the next few days as it has got commitments from several sovereign wealth funds, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said.
“Even though the NIIF has become operational and in the next few days from now it will start its major activities,” Jaitley said while addressing Best Practices in PPPs and Long-term Infrastructure Financing of BRICS Countries seminar here.
The government had set up the Rs 40,000-crore find in December last year as an investment vehicle for funding commercially viable greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects. It was envisioned as a mother fund with several sectoral feeder funds.
“We are awaiting a lot of commitments from various sovereign funds to become either contributors to the main fund itself or to the different sector of infrastructure sector itself which will go into this particular fund (umbrella fund NIIF),” he said.
“I think our model is in the process of evolving and therefore with a large amount of infrastructure needs, which can really be the key to Indian investment and economic activities over the next several years, which can keep growth rate at a high level. This model has to be perfected,” he said.
Noting that there were certain challenges with regard to NIIF, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said investors were more interested in investing in specific, dedicated, sectoral fund rather than all-purpose, multi-sector umbrella fund.
Subsequently, the government had to restructure and recast the structure and begin with two sectorally dedicated funds namely highway sector and clean energy fund, he said.
“So, there will be two separate funds that is clean energy fund which will primarily focus on renewable energy, and there will be another fund which is road funds which will take up road projects. These are two funds that we are setting up,” Das said.
Speaking about investor who are keen to participate in India’s sovereign fund, Das said, “We have signed MoUs with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Rusnano and we have understanding with the UK treasury and the US treasury.
“There are 2-3 proposals and MoUs to be signed. There is a lot of investment appetite. Its just a matter of weeks or one or two months at best activities taking place.”
He also said the bigger investment are interest in the dedicated funds and there is a lot of interest by multilateral institutions and others in funds of the fund.
“The umbrella fund will continue, but at the same time we are also moving on so those who invest in dedicated funds will also take stake in the bigger fund,” he added.
NIIF will play a pivotal role, especially in infrastructure financing of projects in areas of ports, highways and railways in particular, Jaitley said.
Highlighting that infrastructure is key to the growth of economy, he said investment, both from public and private sector, will be required for infrastructure financing, especially in areas of health, education, sanitation, renewable energy, highways, ports and railways among others.
He outlined the strategy the government has adopted to boost the Indian Economy like Make in India, 100 smart cities, and liberalised FDI regime.
The government gives high priority to infrastructure and have taken a number of policy decisions like NIIF, Innovative new financial instruments such as REITS, INVITS, IDFs, he said.
The government is also proposing Public Contracts (Resolution of Disputes) Bill, Guidelines for remediating PPP Contracts, New Credit Rating system, Credit Enhancement for Infrastructure projects etc, he added.
The Finance Minister stressed the need for BRICS member countries to share their experiences in financing and delivery of infra projects so that they can collectively move to higher quality and efficiency in the delivery of public services.
India assumed the Chairmanship of the BRICS in 2016. As part of the run up to the BRICS Summit scheduled for October, 2016, a number of events are being organised. The Seminar is a part of these events and aims at knowledge sharing among BRICS countries on best practices in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
An institutionalized forum among BRICS countries could serve as a regional knowledge hub with exchange of information facilitated through cloud sharing, and other electronic methods, he said.