In a push to the country's infrastructure, the National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) has signed seven MoUs (memorandums of understanding) with global investors to raise funds for key infrastructure projects in the highways and renewable energy sectors.
"Out of the seven MoUs that we have signed, different investors have shown interest in different sectors. Highways and renewable energy funds are the first two funds we are working on but investors are showing interest in other sectors too like ports, airports, we will start work on those very soon," a senior finance ministry official said.
As the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget has reduced the allocation of the NIIF corpus from the earlier Rs.4,000 crore to Rs.1,000 crore, the official said "it is difficult to estimate the investment value as but we can always ramp it up in April if it is required. In case a foreign investor gives us investments worth Rs.5,000 crore then normally we get 45-60 days to raise the corresponding amount," the official said.
The Central government had earlier identified a Konkan Railways project, a power transmission project in the north region, and a few road projects to be funded by NIIF. As per the Output Outcome Framework for Schemes 2017-18, NIIF will have to raise Rs.8000 crore from strategic anchor partners, like multilateral and bilateral institutions, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and domestic public sector enterprises. It has to fund both greenfield and brownfield projects worth Rs.16,000 crore in 2017-18.
The NIIF was set up in December 2015 with a Rs.40,000 crore corpus as an investment vehicle to fund commercially viable as well as stalled projects. Of the total Rs.40,000 crore, the Centre will invest Rs.20,000 crore in NIIF and the remaining will come from private domestic and foreign investors who can invest in the umbrella fund or smaller sector or project-specific funds within it.
Last year, the Central government announced that it is in the process of setting up two sub-funds under NIIF ~ one in clean energy fund which will primarily focus on renewable energy, and another with focus on highway projects.