New Delhi : In continuance to the drive towards accelerated capital spending and timely infrastructure development, Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman chaired review meetings with Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (PNG) and Ministry of Steel (Steel) here today.
The review meetings were attended by Secretary (Economic Affairs), Secretary (MoRTH), Secretary (MoPNG), Secretary (Steel), Joint Secretaries (Economic Affairs) amongst other officials.
Noting the good progress of Capex in the three ministries, the Finance Minister suggested front-loading of Capex in third quarter of FY22 and in the first half-year of FY23. Smt. Sitharaman reiterated that infrastructure projects are a priority for the Government and to achieve the intended vision of the Capex stimulus given in the Union Budget, an increase of 34.5% over last year, it is essential that physical and financial projects targets are expended in the early quarters of the financial year.
In the review with MoRTH, Smt. Sitharaman suggested that may shift from quarterly to monthly review of specific projects to ensure timely completion of projects. In the discussion with PNG, the Finance Minister observed that since refineries are key infrastructure assets essential to economic growth, their progress forms important part of infrastructure sector. Secretary of M/o Steel apprised that the steel production is already at 90% of its pre-pandemic levels and in the next two quarters M/o Steel is expected to achieve its highest-ever production. Smt. Sitharaman observed that steel sector has great potential and highlighted that the sector will benefit from recently launched Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) for specialty steel under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat for specialty steel production.
The Finance Minister observed that the ministries concerned have been watchful for accelerated infrastructure spending and taking progressive measures for the same. During the review meeting, initiatives like PNG exceeding its quarterly targets; MoRTH’s extensive revision of Model Concession Agreements (MCAs) to make them more concessionaire-friendly and steps towards resolution of Right of Way issues by the M/o Steel were discussed and it was observed that these measures display proactive steps in fighting the barriers imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The series of review meetings starting last week of October ‘21 is the third session by the Finance Minister on CAPEX with various infrastructure Ministries/ Departments and in continuation of previous round of meetings held in June 2021.