FM chairs meet on infra road map, asks ministries to front-load capex

New Delhi (IANS) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday held a virtual meeting with senior government officials to discuss the infrastructure roadmap ahead.

This was her fourth review meeting with Ministries and Departments, and the second in the series of meetings scheduled on the infrastructure roadmap ahead after the presentation of Budget 21-22.

During the meeting, the Capital Expenditure Plans of Ministries and their central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), the status of implementation of budget announcements, and measures to expedite infrastructure investment were discussed.

The meeting was attended by the Finance Secretary, the Economic Affairs Secretary, the Public Enterprises Secretary, the Power Secretary, and the Railway Board Chairman & CEO as well as CMDs/CEOs of CPSEs of these two Ministries.

While reviewing the capital expenditure performance of the Ministries and their CPSEs, Sitharaman emphasised that enhanced capex will play a critical role in revitalising the economy postpandemic and encouraged the Ministries to front-load their capital expenditure.

Ministries were also requested to aim to achieve more than their capex targets.

The Finance Minister said that the Budget for 2021-22 provided a capital outlay of Rs l 5.54 lakh crore, a sharp increase of 34.5 per cent over the Budget Estimate of 2020-21. However, the efforts from the budgetary side to increase the capital expenditure have to be complemented by the PSEs, she added.

She also highlighted that the infrastructure expenditure is not just Central government budgetary expenditure on infrastructure and includes infrastructures pending by state governments and the private sector. It also includes government expenditure through extra-budgetary resources. Therefore, Ministries are to actively work on getting projects funded through innovative structuring and financing and provide all support to private sector for enhancing infrastructure spending, the Finance Minister said, adding that the Ministries also need to explore PPP mode for viable projects.

Sitharaman also asked the Ministries and their CPSEs to ensure clearance of MSMEs’ dues at the earliest.

She also requested the Secretaries of Ministries to push expenditure on large important projects to ensure that the achievement is commensurate with timelines, and Ministries to take up regular reviews of sector-specific projects with the state governments concerned for effective implementation.

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