FM concludes pre-budget consultations on infrastructure, climate action

Finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman on Thursday discussed ways of mobilising resources for infrastructure sector and addressing climate change concerns through increased use of renewable energy sources among others.

During her fourth pre-Budget consultation meeting with stakeholders from infrastructure and climate action areas in New Delhi, the main areas of discussion included issues like finding more capital for projects in the infrastructure sector such as high ways, railways, telecom, auto-mobile as also providing incentives for electric vehicles as well as for the green sector, including renewable energy among others.
The discussions come amidst a liquidity crisis in the non-banking finance sector that has been the mainstay of infrastructure financing.
Ahead of the union budget, top officials from banks, insurance companies, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) had sought an urgent solution for the liquidity crisis surrounding NBFCs and to improve banks’ ability to lend.
The consultations, aimed at creating sustainable and stable opportunities, sought suggestions from representatives of the infrastructure sector and experts of climate change.
Discussions were centred on containing the rising cost of infrastructure projects, rationalisation of various levies in infrastructure sector, introduction of tax-free bonds to boost investment, streamlining of land acquisition process, creation of Green Technology Acceleration Fund, incentivising domestic manufacturing of solar energy equipment, fiscal incentives for development of electric vehicles industry, user development fee for up-gradation of railway stations, inclusion of telecom towers in plant and machinery category for GST purposes, promotion of non-fossil fuel based energy, redevelopment of wasteland and greater emphasis on recycling/up-cycling of waste material, imparting Infrastructure status to renewable energy sector, provisions related to scraping of old vehicles and incentivising higher investment in R&D in automobile sector, among others.
The meeting was attended by, among others, minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Thakur, finance secretary Subhash C Garg, expenditure secretary Girish Chandra Murmu, Revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, secretary-DIPAM Atanu Chakraborty, secretary in the ministry of road transport  and highways Sanjeev Ranjan, additional secretary in the ministry of forests and climate change Ravi S Prasad,  Railway Board chairman V K Yadav, CBDT chairma Pramod Chandra Mody, CBIC chairman PK Das, CEA KV Subramanian and other senior officials in the ministry of finance.
Stakeholders of infrastructure sector and experts on climate change who participated in the meeting included NHAI chairman Nagendranath Sinha, MD and CEO of Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Sanjeev Kumar Lohia, Additional CMD of Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) Praveen Kumar, president, Cement Manufactures’ Association Mahendra Singhi, Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI) president TK Malhotra, TERI director-general Ajay Mathur, vice-president of Observer Research Foundation Gautam Chikermane, Shibani Ghosh of the Centre for Policy Research, president of Internet Service Providers  Association of India Rajesh Chharia, director general of Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association TT Dua, president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures Rajan Wadhera, Varun Khanna of the Cellular Operators Association of India, MD of Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles (SMVE) Rahul Sharma and executive MD of SB Energy (Softbank Group) Manoj Kohli, among others.