Nirmala Sitharaman asks various ministries to front load capex; explore PPPs for viable projects

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday asked various ministries to try to spend more than their capital expenditure targets as well as explore public private partnerships for viable projects.
During a meeting with senior government officials to discuss the infrastructure roadmap, she also urged the ministries and their CPSEs to ensure clearance of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) dues at the earliest.
This was the fifth review meeting by the finance minister with ministries and departments on the infrastructure roadmap.
Capital expenditure (capex) plans of ministries and their CPSEs (Central Public Sector Enterprises), status of implementation of budget announcements and measures to expedite infrastructure investment were discussed, according to an official release.
“While reviewing the capital expenditure performance of the ministries and their CPSEs, finance minister emphasised that enhanced capex will play a critical role in revitalising the economy post-pandemic and encouraged the ministries to front-load their capital expenditure,” it said.
The ministries were also requested to aim to achieve more than their capex targets.
Union Budget for 2021-22 has provided a capital outlay of Rs 5.54 lakh crore, an increase of 34.5 per cent over the Budget Estimate of 2020-21.
However, efforts from the budgetary side to increase the capital expenditure have to be complemented by the public sector enterprises, Sitharaman added.
According to her, the infrastructure expenditure is not just central government budgetary expenditure on infrastructure and includes infrastructure spending by state governments and private sector. It also includes government expenditure through extra-budgetary resources.
Therefore, Sitharaman said ministries are to actively work on getting projects funded through innovative structuring and financing and provide all support to private sector for enhancing infrastructure spending.
She stressed that the ministries also need to explore Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for viable projects.
Further, the minister asked the department of telecommunications (DoT) to expedite important projects and provide the benefit of high level data connectivity to all parts of the country, including aspirational districts.
The ministry of road transport and highways was asked to explore the possibility of enhancing connectivity in hilly regions and to expedite the implementation of vehicle scrapping facilities while the minister urged the department of atomic energy to ensure timely achievement of initiatives announced under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package (ANBP).
According to the release, Sitharaman also asked the secretaries of ministries to push expenditure on large important projects to ensure that the achievement is commensurate with timelines.
Ministries were also told to take up regular reviews of sector-specific projects with the concerned State governments for effective implementation of the same.

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