Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman discussed capital requirements, rising cost of projects and rationalisation of levies with infrastructure sector representatives on Thursday. The finance minister held pre-Budget consultations with stakeholders from the infrastructure sector and experts on climate changes, who made a number of suggestions to the government. Issues such as the need for more capital to the infrastructure sector - highways, railways and telecom, and automobile including incentives for electric vehicles - and issues concerning the green sector such as renewable energy were discussed.
With an eye on creation of sustainable and stable opportunities, suggestions from the representatives included containment of the rising cost of projects, rationalisation of levies and introduction of tax-free bonds for the infra sector, according to an official statement.
The stakeholders also suggested streamlining of the land acquisition process, creation of a Green Technology Acceleration Fund, incentivisation of domestic manufacturing of solar energy equipment, fiscal incentives for the development of electric vehicles industry.
The user development fee for upgradation of railway stations, inclusion of telecom towers in the plant and machinery category for GST purposes, promotion of non-fossil fuel-based energy, and redevelopment of wasteland and a greater emphasis on recycling/up-cycling of waste material were among the areas discussed, the statement noted.
The representatives included NHAI chairman Nagendranath Sinha, Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation MD and CEO Sanjeev Kumar Lohia, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) additional CMD Praveen Kumar, Cement Manufactures' Association president Mahendra Singhi, Internet Service Providers Association of India president Rajesh Chharia, Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures (SIAM) president Rajan Wadhera and Varun Khanna of Cellular Operators Association of India.
Ms Sitharaman also conducted pre-Budget consultations with financial and capital market stakeholders on the same day.