Foreign sovereign and pension funds interested in NIIF: economic affairs secy

The government’s Rs 40,000-crore (around $6 billion) National Investment and Infrastructure Fund has been attracting a lot of interest from foreign sovereign and pension funds, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das has said.

In a tweet on Friday, Das also pointed out that state-owned IIFCL had been appointed as interim investment adviser for NIIF.

"1st Board Meeting of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) Trust company held recently. IIFCL appointed as interim investment adviser," he tweeted.

The decision from the government comes just a few months after the government had set up a search cum selection committee to appoint a chief executive officer (CEO) for NIIF.

The committee is headed by Shaktikanta Das with four other members. The other members of the committee are financial services secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal, State Bank of India’s chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy’s (NIPFP) director Rathin Roy and economist Rajiv Kumar.

The infrastructure financing fund was announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech this year and was cleared by the cabinet in July.

While the government had earlier announced a fund corpus of Rs 20,000 crore, it had later doubled the corpus to Rs 40,000 crore in the alternative investment fund (AIF) with the Centre holding a maximum stake of 49 per cent in NIIF and the remaining stake going to overseas sovereign, quasi-sovereign, multilateral and bilateral investors to co-invest in it as anchor investors.

The government had also made provisions for cash-rich PSUs to contribute to the NIIF.

While the government has not been able to kickstart reforms from Parliament, it can only hope to bring about the change in infrastructure from the NIIF. Nitin Gadkari in a Fintech Storm Europe-India conclave earlier this week had said that infrastructure shall remain top priority for the government and it was confident of achieving 7.5 per cent growth in 2015-16.

The government on Friday in its mid-year review revised down its growth estimate from 8.1-8.5 per cent for 2015-16 to 7.0-7.5 per cent while maintaining that it would be easily be able to achieve its fiscal target of 3.9 per cent for the year.

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