Budget 2018: The government’s outlay for infrastructure in 2018-19 is a whopping Rs 6 lakh crore to be mobilised both from budgetary and extra-budgetary expenditure. This is a 21% jump over the estimated expenditure of Rs 4.94 lakh crore in 2017-18. The spend is aimed at both creating assets and jobs. The allocation for road sector — highways and rural roads —alone is Rs 1.40 lakh crore which will be drawn from both the Budget 2018 and EBS. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday the government is confident of completing national highways exceeding 9,000 kilometre in 2017-18. “The ambitious Bharatmala project has been approved for providing seamless connectivity of interior and backward areas and borders of the country, to develop 35,000 km in phase one at an estimated cost of Rs 5.35 lakh crore,” the FM observed.
Watch: Tax takeaways from Budget 2018 for the common man
India needs massive investments, estimated to be in excess of Rs 50 lakh crore, in infrastructure to increase growth of GDP, connect and integrate the nation with a network of roads, airports, railways, ports and inland waterways and to provide good quality services to people. Manish Aggarwal, partner, KPMG in India, pointed out the capital outlay for the sector has been increased by 20% and the focus seems to be on execution and implementation. “However, all of this is still government led, unless private sector investments make a comeback, we may not see the kind of infrastructure growth that we did in the past,” Aggarwal noted. Varun Mehta, CFO, Sadbhav Infrastructure Projects said the road sector was in an auto mode and the increased allocation would mean more project awards. “The focus on rural spending and roads will drive up traffic growth,” Mehta said.
The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) envisages a target of 57,000 kilometre roads and 28.35 crore mandays with a financial target of Rs 19,000 crore. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGA) has a target of 2.60 lakh km of rural roads. So far, 99 cities have been selected for the Smart Cities Mission aimed at building 100 smart cities with state of-the-art amenities, an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore. Various projects like Smart Command and Control Centre, Smart Roads, Solar Rooftops, Intelligent Transport Systems, Smart Parks are being implemented”. Projects worth Rs 2,350 crore have been completed and works of Rs 20,852 crore are under progress, the FM said.