The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Post-Budget Webinar on ‘Infrastructure and Investment’ today. The Webinar, led by Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways (MoRT&H) and co-led by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), is a part of a series of 12 Webinars being organized by the Government to seek ideas and suggestions for effective implementation of the initiatives announced during the Union Budget FY 2023-24. The Union Budget FY 2023-24 has laid out the vision for guiding our country through the Amrit Kaal by adopting 7 key priorities or ‘Saptarishis’ viz., Inclusive Development, Reaching the Last Mile, Infrastructure and Investment, Unleashing the Potential, Green Growth, Youth Power and Financial Sector.
The Prime Minister started his remarks by emphasizing that this year’s Budget will give new energy to infrastructure. He informed that India’s Capital Expenditure has increased 5 times compared to 2013-14 and the government is moving with a target of investing Rs. 110 lakh crore under the National Infrastructure Pipeline. Noting the obstacles that came in the way of investments in the infrastructural development of the country by previous governments, the Prime Minister highlighted that the present government has been successful in making record investments in modern infrastructure. The Prime Minister noted that the average construction of National Highways has nearly doubled compared to what it was before 2014. Similarly, only 600 route km of railway track was electrified per year before 2014 which is now reaching 4,000 km per year. He further added that the capacity of airports and seaports has doubled as well. In light of all of these developments, he pointed out that India is on track to achieve the target of becoming a developed nation by 2047 by promoting infrastructure development.
The Prime Minister further laid emphasis on the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan as a critical tool for integrating economic and infrastructural planning and development. He highlighted that under the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan, 100 critical infrastructure gap projects have been prioritized for development in FY 2023-24 and Rs. 75,000 Cr. have been allocated for the same. Similarly, with multimodal infrastructure development, India’s logistics cost will reduce further, improve ease of living and ease of doing business in the country.
The Prime Minister brought to attention that the participation of the private sector is a crucial pillar in the development of infrastructure. He invited all attendees of the Webinar from the private sector to support the Government in this regard. The Prime Minister also encouraged the States to continue taking elevated responsibility in infrastructure development, which will be supported by the one-year extension of interest-free loans up to 50 years, as highlighted in the Budget for FY 2023-24.
The Prime Minister emphasized that along with India’s physical infrastructure, it is equally important to strengthen the country’s social infrastructure. He underlined that a strong social infrastructure would enable more talented and skilled youth to serve the nation. The Prime Minister stressed the need for skill development, project management, financial skills and entrepreneurship to further the social sector. He also addressed the need to develop a mechanism for skill forecasting that will help small and big industries from different sectors while also benefiting the human resource pool of the country. He also urged various ministries in the governments to work at a fast pace in this direction. Concluding the address, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that the views, suggestions and experiences of all stakeholders will help in the fast and effective implementation of this year’s Budget.
The special address by the Prime Minister was followed by a presentation by Shri Anurag Jain, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), who provided an overview of the Budget provisions and laid down expectations for the outcomes desired from the Post-Budget Webinar.
Secretary (DPIIT), highlighted that the increased economic output from the user industries of infrastructure viz., Steel, Coal, Fertilizers, Food & Public Distribution, Renewable energy, Petroleum & Natural gas, Power etc., will drive the demand for logistics infrastructure in the country. To this effect the infrastructure sectors of highways, railways, ports & shipping and aviation have all adopted visionary targets for enhancing the logistics efficiency of the country.
Secretary (DPIIT) also emphasized the importance of enablers like adoption of the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan for integrated economic and infrastructure development including bridging of Critical Infrastructure Gaps, Support to States and the refinement of the financing framework for the Harmonized Master List. These enablers will add a multiplier effect on the investment made towards infrastructure development. Thereafter, Secretary (DPIIT), reiterated the discussion themes to be taken up in the Webinar and laid down the objectives expected from the Webinar, of creating a list of initiatives / reforms focusing on Infrastructure and Investment theme of the Budget and creating a robust action plan, jointly prepared by Government and Industry stakeholders, for effective implementation of the vision of the Budget.
The opening presentation by Secretary (DPIIT), was followed by remarks from 3 industry leaders along the three sub-themes viz., ‘Logistics Efficiency via Multi-modality and Filling Critical Infrastructure Gaps’, ‘Planning on PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan’ and ‘Infrastructure Development and Investment Opportunities’.
Mr. Dhruv Kotak (MD, JM Baxi Ports and Logistics) spoke about the modernization of ports to promote efficiency and bring down logistics cost. Mr R. Dinesh (President Designate, CII) suggested the setting up digital standards and solutions to promote utilization of infrastructure assets and improving the quality of infrastructure through process changes. Finally, Mr. Vinayak Pai (MD, Tata Projects) spoke about making projects more predictable in terms of time and cost and on getting talent into the infrastructure industry.
The Opening Session of the Webinar was concluded after the remarks from the above 3 industry leaders. The Opening Session was followed by three parallel breakout sessions.
The first breakout session on ‘Logistics Efficiency via Multi-modality and Filling Critical Infrastructure Gaps’, moderated by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW), included remarks from Mr Arun Maheswari (JMD & CEO, JSW Infrastructure), Mr. Ajay Singh (CEO, SpiceJet) and Mr. Ranjan Sinha (Chief, Global Shipping, Tata Steel), among others. The session included multiple valuable suggestions from the stakeholders including, the need for comprehensive multimodal connectivity to MMLPs, Rail Gati Shakti Terminals, Ports and other economic nodes, developing infrastructure for bigger trucks, increasing modal share of Waterways, creation of a dedicated fund required to provide long tenure loans at competitive rates to promote Coastal Shipping, etc.
The second breakout session on ‘Planning on PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan’, moderated by DPIIT, included remarks from Mr. Manu Bhalla (President, Warehousing Association of India), Mr. Davinder Sandhu (Chairman, Primus Partners) and Mr. Bharat Joshi (Director, Associated Container Terminal Ltd.), amongst others. The session included multiple valuable suggestions from the stakeholders including, linking all upcoming infrastructure projects announced in Budget to the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan, development of a Master plan for logistics facilities viz., warehouses, aggregation centers, etc., inclusion of the warehousing sector, EV truck charging infrastructure and social sector projects in the Harmonized Master List, etc.
The breakout session on ‘Infrastructure Development and Investment Opportunities’, moderated by MoRT&H, included remarks from Mr. Pushkar Kulkarni (MD Infrastructure, CPP Investments), Mr. Gurdeep Singh (CMD, NTPC), Mr. Neeraj Sanghi (CEO, Highway Concessions), Mr. Kedar Upadhye (CFO, Renew Power) and Col. Vikram Tiwathia (DDG, COAI), amongst others. The session included multiple suggestions from the speakers including, releasing pipeline of projects for monetization in advance to enable capital raising and deployment by investors, long-term offtake agreements with price guarantee for enhancing capital availability for renewable power generation, establishing seamless first mile and last mile connectivity across road, rail and waterways to key origin-destination pairs etc.
The breakout sessions were followed by a plenary session, where Shri Sudhansh Pant, Secretary (MoPSW), Ms. Sumita Dawra, Special Secretary (Logistics) and Ms. Alka Upadhyaya, Secretary (MoRT&H) summarized the discussions held in the three breakout sessions and also announced suggestions from industry stakeholders that will be taken up for further deliberation and addressal.
The plenary session was followed by an address by Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry. He highlighted how the Post Budget webinar is a unique value proposition that is empowering the nation with information regarding the budget, while also sourcing inputs from industry stakeholders. He highlighted how the government has transformed the scale and speed of infrastructure, while ensuring capital availability at affordable rates. The Minister also stressed upon the importance of private participation in the development and financing of infrastructure.
Subsequently, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, addressed the audience. He noted that the prioritization of critical infrastructure gap projects is a key enabler for developing multimodal connectivity. He also highlighted the multiple initiatives being undertaken by MoRT&H to improve logistics efficiency including the implementation of the Bharatmala Pariyojana which will result in reduction in distance, time and fuel costs through optimized alignments. The Minister also assured the audience that officials of MoRT&H will deliberate further on the inputs received throughout the sessions and continue to adopt a strategic approach for the development of highway infrastructure in the country.
The Budget Webinar was drawn to a close by remarks from Shri Amit Kumar Ghosh, Addl. Secretary (MoRT&H), where he thanked all stakeholders for their time in participating in the discussions throughout the day and assured everyone that appropriate initiatives will be taken up to make the best use of the valuable inputs received from all the private stakeholders throughout the Webinar.