Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath on Thursday, pitched for infrastructure bonds in different currencies, specially suited to NRIs, for raising resources for building roads in India.
“I would request the Finance Minister (Pranab Mukherjee) to look at issuance of infrastructure bonds in different currencies and denominations specifically for people of Indian origin and NRIs,” Mr. Nath said at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2010, calling upon the NRIs to invest in India.
“Let the Finance Minister examine this issue, we will come out with something for the NRIs (Non Resident Indians) and PIOs (Person of India Origin),” he said, stressing that “India is not only a stable investment destination but a very attractive investment destination.”
However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee did not commit himself to this proposal of floating infrastructure bonds, as this requires detailed examination and Parliamentary nod. “That does not mean that I am agreeing to that proposal, don’t take it as a commitment.” he said.
If these bonds come up, they would be the second major initiatives of this type after SBI Resurgent India Bonds floated in late 1990s for raising resources from overseas players for infrastructure sector in India.
About the road sector, he said India has embarked on building 7,000 km of roads a year, which translates into 20 km of roads a day as per Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s announcement.
“To achieve this, we need work on 20,000 km in progress. So, 20,000 km of work in progress means USD 50 billion worth of investment,” he said saying, “Wealth does not create roads, roads create wealth and what better investment is required for all-inclusive growth than investment in roads.”
He said the country has the second largest network of roads in the world. “We have 3.4 million km of roads, next only to the US and bigger than China, which carry 70 per cent of our freight and 85 per cent of passengers,” Mr. Kamal Nath said.
Terming the next decade in India as the decade of infrastructure, he said 35,000 km of roads will be built in next five years and beginning April 1, 2010, the pace of building roads will be 20 km a day from 9 km now.
Referring to the auto expo currently under way in the capital, he said India would manufacture world class cars and is heading towards 25 million cars. He said 100 new cars were on the show and 10 new cars were launched in the auto expo.