Unboxing PSUs Assets to Boost Economy

The Union Budget for FY2021-22 proposes a plethora of measures to boost the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) to fund potential projects.

February 7, 2021

NIP was first launched in December 2019 with 6,835 projects. It has now expanded to 7,400 projects.

The launch of NIP shall facilitate the creation of an important financing option for new infrastructure construction.

The Government has provisioned a sum of US$ 2.3bn to capitalise the Development Financial Institution (DFI).

Creation of institutional structures, monetising assets, and enhancing capital expenditure will help achieve said target.

While presenting the Union Budget 2021-22, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced three important measures to help the Government achieve the target set for the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) in the coming years. These measures include creation of institutional structures, a big thrust on monetising assets, and enhancing the share of capital expenditure in Central and State budgets. NIP was first launched in December 2019 with 6,835 projects. It has now expanded to 7,400 projects, and almost 217 projects worth US$15.09bn are near completion. To further strengthen the country’s infrastructure, the Government infused US$75.98bn capital expenditure in the budget FY2021-22, an increase of 34.5% YoY.

Capitalising Development Financial Institution (DFI) and Asset Monetisation

The Government has provisioned a sum of US$ 2.3bn to capitalise Development Financial Institution (DFI).  The DFI will act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing. Legislations will also be brought in to enable Debt Financing of InVITs and REITs by Foreign Portfolio Investors suitable amendments will be done in the relevant legislations. This move will help augment funds for infrastructure and real estate sectors.

With the launch of the “National Monetisation Pipeline” for potential brownfield infrastructure assets, one will see the creation of an important financing option for new infrastructure construction. An Asset Monetisation dashboard will also be created for tracking the progress and to provide visibility to investors. 

National Highways Authority of India and PGCIL each have sponsored one InvIT that will attract international and domestic institutional investors. Five operational roads approximately worth US$685.72mn is being transferred to the NHAI infrastructure investment trust (InvIT). Additionally, transmission assets worth US$960mn are likely to be transferred to the PGCIL InvIT.

The Railways too will look at monetising Dedicated Freight Corridor assets for operations and maintenance, post commissioning. In addition, the next lot of Airports will be monetised for operations and management concession.

Other core infrastructure assets that will be rolled out under the Asset Monetisation Programme include NHAI Operational Toll Roads, Transmission Assets of PGCIL, Oil and Gas Pipelines of GAIL, IOCL and HPCL, AAI Airports in Tier II and III cities. Other infrastructure assets include Railway Infrastructure,  Warehousing Assets of CPSEs such as Central Warehousing Corporation and NAFED among others as well as Sports Stadiums.

The included projects could either be existing ones or those that are modified and upgraded. The National Monetisation Pipeline aims to increase funding for National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) thereby resulting in reduced demand on the exchequer and the tax-payer.

Asset Monetisation creates innovate ways of generating revenue for the public sector undertaking, by unleashing the value of unutilised or under-utilised public assets. Over the last few years, several assets bought by public sector units are not utilised to their capacity. This has greatly impacted the country’s economy.  With the new National Asset Monetisation Pipeline, these undervalued public assets can be utilised efficiently to attract financial aid for the Public Sector Units (PSUs). The proposed plan includes creation of an asset monetisation dashboard to track the progress and to provide visibility to potential investors.

The Economic Impact of National Asset Monetisation Pipeline

There are several advantages in the monetisation of unutilised assets. For instance, India’s railway industry owns about 47,000 hectares of land. The two major economic benefits of asset monetisation are:

  • Higher PSU Returns 

The under-utilised assets can help lower market borrowings and help shoulder the burden of interest payment. 

  • A Boost for Regional Development 

The affected PSUs will receive additional resources that can be used for restructuring, reinvestment and expansion. These assets can then produce productive assets and set up factories and industries for regional economic development. 

Asset monetisation can help achieve funding for several potential projects for the Government and also promote asset utilisation.