Know your budget: Infrastructure and Financial Sector Development

Know your budget: Infrastructure and Financial Sector Development

New Delhi, February 01: The Finance minister emphasized the transformation of Global economy into a digital economy owing to development of cutting edge technologies in digital space such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things and the need to adapt digitization in his budget speech.

Here are some key infrastructure development announcements.

The finance minister said that the country needs massive investments estimated to be in excess of 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 our people.

Projects worth 9.46 lakh have been facilitated and fast tracked under the online monitoring system PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation), which is a multi-purpose and multi-modal platform PRAGATI aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.

To secure India’s defences, connectivity infrastructure in border areas will be improved. Rohtang tunnel has been completed to provide all weather connectivity to the Ladakh region. Contract for construction of Zozila Pass tunnel of more than 14 kilometer is progressing well. The construction tunnel under Sela Pass was proposed.

The Smart Cities and and the AMRUT mission which is aimed at building 100 Smart Cities with state-of-the-art amenities was rolled out, 99 Cities have been selected under these programs with an outlay of `2.04 lakh crore.

To preserve and revitalize soul of the heritage cities in India, National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) has been taken up in a major way. In addition, tourist amenities at 100 Adarsh monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India will be upgraded to enhance visitor experience.

The Ministry will leverage the India Infrastructure Finance Corporation Limited (IIFCL) to help finance major infrastructure projects, including investments in educational and health infrastructure, on strategic and larger societal benefit considerations.

The minister said that road development in the country scaled new heights in 2017, the National Highways was lengthened to 9000 kilometers.

Railways’ Capex for the year 2018-19 has been pegged at `1,48,528 crore. A large part of the Capex is devoted to capacity creation. 18,000 kilometers of doubling, third and fourth line works and 5000 kilometers of gauge conversion would eliminate capacity constraints and transform almost entire network into Broad Gauge. Redevelopment of 600 major railway stations is being taken up by Indian Railway Station Development Co. Ltd. All stations with more than 25000 footfalls will have escalators; railway stations and trains will be progressively provided with wi-fi and surveilled with CCTVs cameras.

Arun Jaitley said that the domestic air passenger traffic grew at 18% per annum in the last three years. Regional connectivity scheme of UDAN(Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) initiated by the Government last year will connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads across the country.

Here are some key financial announcements.

Reserve Bank of India has issued guidelines to nudge Corporates access bond market. SEBI will also consider mandating, beginning with large Corporates, to meet about one-fourth of their financing needs from the bond market.
Corporate bonds rated ‘BBB’ or equivalent are investment grade. In India, most regulators permit bonds with the ‘AA’ rating only as eligible for investment. It is now time to move from ‘AA’ to‘A’ grade ratings.
Arun Jaitley said that the Government will establish a unified authority for regulating all financial services in IFSCs in India. NITI Aayog will initiate a national program to direct the government’s efforts in the area of artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications.

To invest in research, training and skilling inrobotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analysis, quantum communication and internet of things, Department of Science & Technology will launch a Mission on Cyber Physical Systems to support establishment of centres of excellence.

The minister doubled the allocation on Digital India programme to ` 3073 crore in 2018-19.

Task of connecting one lakh gram panchayat through high speed optical fiber network has been The The Government has proposed to setup five lakh wi-fi hotspots which will provide broadband access to five crore rural citizens.

In order to create employment and aid growth, Government’s estimated budgetary and extra budgetary expenditure on infrastructure for 2018-19 was increased to `5.97 lakh crore against estimated expenditure of `4.94 lakh crore in 2017-18.