New Delhi: Indian Raliways will soon invite bids from private players for the modernisation of 400 railway stations across the country, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.
"Very shortly, the railways is going to come up with its proposed bids for the development of 400 stations in the country," he said at a foundation day function of India Infrastructure Finance Company.
"The railways have now come on to the right track. They are inviting the private sector, including foreign investments, in infrastructure. GE and Alstom have agreed to make major investments in Bihar," the minister said.
"The railways have issued tax free bonds, have recently managed big financing from LIC (Life Insurance Corporation of India), besides foreign investments," he said regarding the railways efforts in attracting infrastructure investment.
Jaitley stressed that public investment has to lead the way in tackling global slowdown's impact, and added that a lot of resources were put into national highways, rural roads and railways during 2015.
"The result is visible now, that the stalled highway projects have got moving. As a result of increased public investment, even private sector players who got bogged down in their disputes have re-entered the field," he said.
The minister also said state-run ports sector needs to be overhauled and moved towards privatisation.
"The structure of state sector ports needs a rethink, moving towards privatisation of state-run trust ports," Jaitley said.
"If major ports don't overhaul their structures, they will seriously fall behind in competition with minor ports," the minister said.
He said the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) was already in place, and it was in touch with many sovereign and pension funds that had shown interest in investing in the sector.
Following the first meeting of the NIIF here last week, Jaitley, who heads the NIIF Governing Council, told reporters that the progress with regard to the proposals of sovereign funds from the United Arab Emirates, Britain, Russia and Singapore were particularly discussed.
While the government will contribute Rs.20,000 crore to the fund, another amount of Rs.20,000 crore is expected to come from private investors.
The union cabinet in July approved the creation of the NIIF with a corpus of Rs.20,000 crore for development of infrastructure projects, including the stalled ones.