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New infrastructure policy soon: PM
Tribune News Seminar

New Delhi, October 7
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured a new investor-friendly policy soon to meet India's requirement of around $320 billion for infrastructure development, particularly in railways, roads, port and power, over the next six years.

"In the coming weeks, we will finalise the framework for the remaining areas of infrastructure, like policy, regulatory and institutional framework," he told a seminar on infrastructure here.

The new policy, he added, would ensure competitiveness and complete transparency in the process of inviting bids and award of contracts, besides putting in place a proper regulatory framework and dispute settlement mechanism.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the Indian economy grew by over 8 per cent in the second quarter of the current fiscal year maintaining the high growth of 8.9 per cent in the first quarter.

The Prime Minister invited private sector and other stakeholders to participate in the consultation process in this regard.

A growth rate near 10 per cent is not impossible to achieve, said Manmohan Singh

Singling out power, where transmission and distribution losses were at a staggering 40 per cent of the total generation, as the most critical area of concern, Singh said the Planning Commission had estimated a massive Rs 14,50,000 crore investment requirement for development of infrastructure by 2012.

Public investment had its limitations and unless the private sector came forward, either through participation with the public sector or on its own, infrastructure would remain an area of concern, the Prime Minister said.

He assured the industry of a totally transparent and competitive bidding route in tandem with an effective regulatory and speedy dispute resolution mechanism.

Replying to a query, Singh admitted that more was needed to be done on the regulatory front for a totally independent and transparent mechanism to suit Indian requirement. But this was something that needed to be decided on a pragmatic consideration. Listing out the resource requirement in specific sectors like roads, ports and airports as also the government policy initiatives, Singh said to address the areas that could be only marginally viable, the government had opened a window of viability gap funding in the Finance Ministry.

Besides, it had set up India infrastructure finance company for facilitating long-term debts to project promoters. At the same time, he asked the private sector to be considerate to the consumer requirements and pricing to ensure that they provided quality service at reasonable tariff.

He asked the state governments to take immediate steps to reduce transmission and distribution losses.

The conference was attended by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia among others

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