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India will need to invest $ 840 billion over the next 15 years into urban infrastructure: World Bank Report

Currently, the central and state governments finance over 75 per cent of city infrastructure, while urban local bodies finance 15 per cent through their own surplus revenues.

  • India will need to invest USD 840 billion over the next 15 years: World Bank.
  • By 2036, 600 million people will be living in urban cities in India, representing 40 per cent of the population.
  • The World Bank report recommended expanding the capacities of city agencies to deliver infrastructure projects at scale.

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India will need to invest $ 840 billion over the next 15 years into urban infrastructure: World Bank Report

New Delhi: India will need to invest USD 840 billion over the next 15 years, or on an average of USD 55 billion per annum, into urban infrastructure if it is to effectively meet the needs of its fast-growing urban population, according to a new World Bank report. The report, titled "Financing India`s Infrastructure Needs: Constraints to Commercial Financing and Prospects for Policy Action" underlined the urgent need to leverage more private and commercial investments to meet emerging financial gaps. By 2036, 600 million people will be living in urban cities in India, representing 40 per cent of the population.

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"This is likely to put additional pressure on the already stretched urban infrastructure and services of Indian cities - with more demand for clean drinking water, reliable power supply, efficient and safe road transport amongst others," World Bank said in a statement on Monday.

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Currently, the central and state governments finance over 75 per cent of city infrastructure, while urban local bodies finance 15 per cent through their own surplus revenues. Only 5 per cent of the infrastructure needs of Indian cities are currently being financed through private sources. With the government`s current (2018) annual urban infrastructure investments topping at USD 16 billion, much of the gap, it said, will require private financing.

"Cities in India need large amounts of financing to promote green, smart, inclusive, and sustainable urbanization. Creating a conducive environment for urban local bodies, especially large and creditworthy ones, to borrow more from private sources will therefore be critical to ensuring that cities are able to improve the living standards of their growing populations in a sustainable manner," said Auguste Tano Kouame, Country Director, World Bank, India.

The World Bank report recommended expanding the capacities of city agencies to deliver infrastructure projects at scale. It added a weak regulatory environment and weak revenue collection also add to the challenge of cities accessing more private financing. Low service charges for municipal services also undermine their financial viability and attractiveness to private investment. Over the medium term, the report suggested a series of structural reforms including those in the taxation policy and fiscal transfer system - which can allow cities to leverage more private financing.

In the short term, it identified a set of large high-potential cities that have the ability to raise higher volumes of private financing."The government of India can play an important role in removing market frictions that cities face in accessing private financing.

The World Bank report proposes a range of measures that can be taken by the city, state, and federal agencies to bend the arc towards a future in which private commercial finance becomes a much bigger part of the solution to India`s urban investment challenge," said Roland White, Global Lead, City Management and Finance, World Bank, and co-author of the report.

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