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FM Sitharaman Asks Transport, Petroleum, Steel Ministries To Front Load Capex Spending

Noting the good progress of Capex in the three ministries, the finance minister suggested front-loading of Capex in the third quarter of FY22 and in the first half of FY23

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To push investment in infrastructure projects, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday reviewed the progress of capital expenditure (Capex) by the petroleum and steel ministries and asked them to front-load their spending.

In continuance to the drive towards accelerated capital spending and timely infrastructure development, she chaired review meetings with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (PNG) and Ministry of Steel.

Noting the good progress of Capex in the three ministries, the finance minister suggested front-loading of Capex in the third quarter of FY22 and in the first half of FY23, an official statement said.

Sitharaman said infrastructure projects are a priority for the government, and to achieve the intended vision of the Capex stimulus given in the Union Budget -- a 34.5 per cent rise over the last year, it is essential that physical and financial projects targets are expended in the early quarters of the financial year.

Union Budget for 2021-22 has provided a capital outlay of Rs 5.54 lakh crore, an increase of 34.5 per cent over the Budget Estimate of 2020-21.

"During the meeting, Capital Expenditure (Capex) plans of Ministries and their CPSEs for Q3 and Q4, Capex achievements of Q1 and Q2, expenditure incurred on National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), projects undertaken through PPP, estimation of funds to be raised by asset monetization and Convergence under National Master Plan (Gati Shakti) were  discussed," the statement said.

In the review with the MoRTH, Sitharaman suggested that it may shift from quarterly to monthly reviews of specific projects to ensure timely completion of projects.

In the discussion with the petroleum ministry, she observed that since refineries are key infrastructure assets essential to economic growth, their progress forms an important part of the infrastructure sector.

Secretary Ministry of Steel apprised that the steel production is already at 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels and in the next two quarters it is expected to achieve its highest-ever production.

The finance minister said the steel sector has great potential and highlighted that the sector will benefit from the recently launched Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for speciality steel.

She observed that the ministries concerned have been watchful for accelerated infrastructure spending and taking progressive measures for the same.

During the review meeting, initiatives like MoRTH's extensive revision of Model Concession Agreements (MCAs) to make them more concessionaire-friendly and steps towards resolution of Right of Way issues by the Ministry of Steel were also discussed.

It was observed that these measures display proactive steps in fighting the barriers imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said.

The meeting was attended by the secretaries of Economic Affairs, MoRTH, MoPNG and Steel apart from other senior officials.

The meeting is the third in a series of review meetings by the finance minister on Capex with various infrastructure ministries/departments and in continuation of the previous round of meetings held in June 2021.