Infrastructure development in India hasn’t been fast enough to catch up with the growing economy, according to panelists at the One Globe conference 2016 held in Delhi on Friday.

The panelists said that authorities must focus on expanding the bond market to provide financing support essential to building roads, ports and power plants.

The conference comes in the backdrop of the launch of the $6 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) National Infrastructure Investment Fund that seeks to push for investments in infrastructure to help accelerate India’s economic growth.

The panelists felt that administrative hurdles and financing restrictions are among the biggest impediments to growth of the infrastructure sector.

Discussing the infrastructure needs of the nation, the panelists highlighted that financing was the missing link to unlocking the infrastructure potential.

“Lack of a proper bond market is hurting banks and corporates and that has created a mismatch in the length of project, short-term lending of banks and returns on capital,” said Nandita Parker Agarwal, managing partner, Karma Capital Management.

While the government needs to pass the goods and services tax, bankruptcy code and other laws to retain its credibility amongst global investors, it is the corporate houses and investors that need these reforms to kick-start growth, the panelists said.

“There are two kinds of infrastructure. One, that can generate revenue in the short run and the other is social infrastructure. The real issue India has been facing is financing of the social infrastructure,” said Som Mittal, former president of IT industry body NASSCOM.

The opening panel was moderated by Harjiv Singh, founder and CEO of Salwan Media Ventures. The panel saw active participation from Rashi Dhir, senior partner at DMD Advocates; and Rahul Gupta, MD at GE Global Growth, besides Mittal and Agarwal.

The panelists also discussed the implementation of reforms from the government perspective. While they were unanimous in acknowledging the work done by capital markets regulator SEBI, they said that the regulator needs to be more active to implement laws.

Nearly 140 delegates attended 10 sessions on the first day of conference. The participants included Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, minister of state for information and broadcasting; Bibek Debroy, member of Niti Aayog; and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.

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