The infrastructure sector in India faces a multitude of issues ranging from planning to implementation to financing. Loopholes in the policy framework and relatively lower level of innovation contributes to the challenges faced by the sector. Although, the government has taken many steps towards infrastructure development and ease of doing business, there is much scope for improving the efficiency and quality of India’s infrastructure. In this context, we have built some expectations from the Union Budget 2019-20 for the Infrastructure sector.
In view of the upcoming elections, the government could undertake multiple projects connecting rural habitations to agricultural markets, higher secondary schools and hospitals; as the task of linking all eligible habitations with an all-weather road is almost complete.
We expect the budget to announce some measures to expedite the creation of the 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. This would strengthen India’s primary health infrastructure across the nation.
The Electricity Amendment Bill, 2018 the act also suggests separation of distribution and generation function of DISCOMS: this means multiple power suppliers could supply power over the same distribution infrastructure. We expect the creation of an open access mechanism to make power industry more competitive like telecom which will enable the end consumers to change their electricity service provider based on efficiency and cost.
In the Union Budget 2018, record allocation was provided to railways, while the amount allocated to shipping was the least. Given the enormity of the Sagarmala project and nearly 443 projects worth Rs. 4.32 tn under implementation, we expect the government to allocate a significant amount to shipping sector to better facilitate the projects underway.
Given the initiatives for green infrastructure, we expect the government to dedicate a separate fund for such initiatives.
We expect the government to articulate the implementation plans of mega projects within defined timelines and supportive policy measures.
(The writer is Lead Economist at Dun and Bradstreet)