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Power sector wants pvt investment to be encouraged in Budget

The clean energy sector is looking for strengthened govt funding

Shreya Jai  |  New Delhi 

The power sector is hoping in 2015-16 the government will announce steps to improve the investment environment for private companies. The sector, which has been set steep targets, is looking for more government funding.

In 2014-15, the government had announced several schemes for strengthening the power transmission and distribution sector. However, these failed to attract substantial investment.
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“We hope this will distinguish between bankable and non-bankable sectors. Currently, the government continues to provide funding to perfectly bankable sectors such as roads, power transmission and hydroelectricity. This needs to come to an end. Private capital is perfectly capable of funding these bankable sectors,” said Pratik Agarwal, director (infrastructure), Vedanta group.

Experts say in trying to figure how to fund the $1-trillion expenditure in infrastructure, the government should focus on central funding on social sectors such as water, sanitation, health care, education, rural electrifications and rural broadband. “The government should decide to not spend even a penny of its precious capital on bankable sectors and allocate its own capital to creating social infrastructure. These are great uses of exchequer funds,” said Agarwal.

Last year, the government announced ambitious targets for the renewable energy sector. But the segment is in dire need of government funding to boost investor confidence. The of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy stands at only Rs 2,500 crore. Senior officials said as was the case every year, they had requested the budgetary allocation to this ministry be increased.

“Given the new government is keen on increased capacity addition in clean energy, we are hopeful of getting a healthy this year,” said a ministry official.

In the last year, coal cess was doubled from Rs 50 a tonne to Rs 100 a tonne, to be diverted to the National Fund.

Of the funds allocated in the earlier Budget, Rs 6,000 crore is yet to be disbursed to the renewable energy ministry.