Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday indicated that India was seeking doubling of World Bank aid to $6 billion (Rs. 30,000 crore) each year to tackle the slowdown in capital inflows and spur economic growth through higher investment in infrastructure.

“We are having discussions with the World Bank to double the lending to India from $3 billion to $6 billion every year,” Mr. Chidambaram said at the Economic Editors Conference here.

He conceded that it might not be possible to mop up adequate resources from overseas markets for the proposed $500-billion investment in the infrastructure sector during the Eleventh Plan and that was the reason why the government was scouting for alternative sources such as the World Bank and other multilateral lending agencies.

Of the investment target of $500 billion for infrastructure, about $150 billion was to come from private sources, including overseas market. However, with the ongoing global financial crisis, it might not be possible to procure funds overseas in view of the liquidity crunch.

Mr. Chidambaram pointed out that there was still a lot to be done in the infrastructure sectors — both economic and social. “More investment and quicker implementation of projects and programmes are required in roads, ports and airports, power, education, health and skill development. Increasing expenditure in the infrastructure sector is an important part of the countercyclical measures that are being contemplated,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram said the government would continue to provide a stable and conducive investment climate for domestic as well as foreign investors and manage the economy for the benefit of all by enhancing investment and consumption. “It is only an open economy that will bring gains in efficiency and productivity, reward innovation and enterprise and ensure inclusive growth,” he said.

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