Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Displeasure: Parliamentary Panel asks NHAI to restructure debt, raise long-term funds

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New Delhi: A 31-member parliamentary panel on Transport, Tourism and Culture has expressed displeasure over a massive Rs 97,115 crore debt servicing liability on the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The panel has asked the authority to look for options of restructuring the existing debt, also work on exploring a possibility to raise long-term funds. The panel in its report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday also asked NHAI to prioritise its delayed road projects.

"The Committee is distressed to note the huge debt servicing liability of NHAI in the upcoming years," the 31-member panel chaired by TG Venkatesh said pointing out debt servicing liability of Rs 38,997 crore for 2021-22, Rs 28,800 crore for 2022-23 and Rs 29,318 crore for 2023-24.

"The Committee is distressed to note the huge debt servicing liability of NHAI in the upcoming years,"- Committee

The committee notes that the debt servicing liability of NHAI for the next three Financial Years is even higher than the estimates that the Ministry had provided to the Committee during its examination of Demands for Grants (2020-21) of the Ministry, the report mentioned.

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"The Committee recommends that NHAI may prioritise the completion of its delayed road projects to prevent further cost escalation in such projects. The Committee further recommends the NHAI to explore restructuring of its existing debt and prepare proposals to raise long-term funds through the upcoming Development Financial Institution announced in the Budget Speech (2021-22)," it said.

It is pertinent to mention here that govt had announced earlier that a sum of Rs 20,000 crore has been provisioned in the Budget to capitalise a Development Financial Institution (DFI). Making the announcement Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had mentioned that the govt's ambition is to have a lending portfolio of at least Rs 5 lakh crore for this DFI in three years time. A bill will be introduced to set up the DFI which will act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing, she had said.

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