INDIA PAVING ROAD FOR RS 60,000 CRORE PUSH TO INFRASTRUCTURE SECTOR

NEW DELHI (TIP): An influential section of the government is pushing for an additional Rs 50,000-60,000 crore burst of spending to give infrastructure a big mid-year push through the second supplementary demand for grants. Roads, railways and rural electrification will be among the main beneficiaries.

This is being discussed at the top levels of the government, a senior official said. The money will be needed as a number of departments will be close to exhausting their funds and require more money to meet targets. A final call on the amount will be taken in line with additional resources that the government is able to garner.

Genuine requirements based on the utilisation record of ministries will also be taken into account. The government is also keen on completing the promised Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and All India Institutes of Medical Science (AIIMS).

The finance ministry, which needs to stick to the fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP, will be closely involved in taking a final call on the issue. It has begun to look at various options to make room for additional spending.

“Genuine fund requirements would be met. Actual utilisation and unspent balances released to various agencies would be taken into account before allocating any additional funds,” a finance ministry official said.

“Ministries that are sitting on funds and have not been able to spend would have to forego to those that have been able to spend.” Policymakers are of the view that the spending push will help boost growth and also aid timely completion of key government programmes.

The finance ministry had on September 26 invited proposals to be considered for the second supplementary demand for grants that will be presented to Parliament in the winter session that’s to start November 16.

The funds constraint has resulted in just a marginal increase in the capital spending allocation in the current fiscal to Rs2.47 lakh crore from Rs2.38 lakh crore last year. The government has an additional burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore in the current year on account of the seventh pay commission award. But it’s confident of generating any additional funds that may be required thanks to the just-concluded black money disclosure scheme, dividend payments from the Reserve Bank of India and asset sales despite revenue from the recent spectrum auction falling short of target.

“There will be no cuts,” said the official cited above. “The government is quite comfortable with the additional RBI dividend, tax expected on black money disclosures and is confident that the divestment target would be met.”

Highway target

The highway, power and railway ministries are looking for more funds to maintain the momentum on road building, rural electrification and railway capital spending.

The government is also looking at funds to implement its biodegradable toilet project in addition to setting up the promised IITs, AIIMS, and IIMs.